Category Archives: Clinical trials

Recent Collaboratory Publications on Research Ethics


The American Journal of Bioethics has recently published three articles authored by members of the Regulatory/Ethics core group describing various questions related to research on medical practices:

  • Is shared decision making an appropriate analytic frame for research on medical practices (Sugarman 2015) discusses the role of shared decision making (SDM) in research on medical practices. The author cautions that “while SDM is in many ways similar to informed consent, there are some important differences, especially in the research setting.” This publication is freely accessible through PubMed Central.
  • Patients’ views concerning research on medical practices: implications for consent (Weinfurt et al. 2015) describes the results of focus group sessions that elicited a range of patients’ views and opinions about different types of research on usual medical practices. The authors state that “our data suggest that effective policy and guidance will involve balancing different patients’ interests and potentially different sets of interests for different types of research studies on usual medical practices.”
  • Ethics of research in usual care settings: data on point (Sugarman 2016) introduces a special five-article supplement in the American Journal of Bioethics, stating that the “growing empirical ethics literature regarding research in usual care settings provides data to inform conceptual and policy debates regarding this research and suggests areas that require further study.”

These publications were supported by a bioethics supplement awarded to the Regulatory/Ethics Core group by the NIH’s Office of the Director.


Applying PRECIS Ratings to Collaboratory Pragmatic Trials

A new article published in the journal Trials provides a look at how the  Pragmatic–Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary, or PRECIS, rating system can be applied to clinical trials designs in order to examine where a given study sits on the spectrum of explanatory versus pragmatic clinical trials.

The PRECIS-2 criteria are used to rate study designs as more or less “pragmatic” according to multiple domains that include participant eligibility, recruitment methods, setting, organization, analysis methods, primary outcomes, and more. In this context, “pragmatic” refers to trials that are designed to study a therapy or intervention in a “real world” setting similar or identical to the one in which the therapy will actually be used. Pragmatic trials stand in contrast to explanatory trials, which are typically designed to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of an intervention under highly controlled conditions and in carefully selected groups of participants, but which may also be difficult to generalize to larger or more varied populations.

Schematic of PRECIS-2 Wheel used to evaluate where a given trial design resides upon the explanatory-pragmatic spectrum.
PRECIS-2 Wheel.  Kirsty Loudon et al. BMJ 2015;350:bmj.h2147. Copyright 2015 by British Medical Journal Publishing Group. Used by permission.

Clinical trials are almost never wholly “explanatory” or wholly “pragmatic.” Instead, many studies exist somewhere on a spectrum between these two categories. However, understanding how these different attributes apply to trials can help researchers design studies that are optimally fit for purpose, whether that purpose is to describe a biological mechanism (as in an explanatory trial) or to show how effective an intervention is when used across a broad population of patients (as in a pragmatic trial).

In their article in Trials, authors Karin Johnson, Gila Neta, and colleagues  applied PRECIS-2 criteria to 5 pragmatic clinical trials (PCTs) being conducted through the NIH Collaboratory. Each trial was found to rate as “highly pragmatic” across the multiple PRECIS-2 domains, highlighting the tool’s potential usefulness in guiding decisions about study design, but also revealing a number of challenges in applying it and interpreting the results.

Study authors Johnson and Neta will be discussing their findings during the NIH Collaboratory’s Grand Rounds on Friday, January 22, 2016 (an archived version of the presentation will be available the following week).


Johnson KE, Neta G, Dember LM, Coronado GD, Suls J, Chambers DA, Rundell S, Smith DH, Liu B, Taplin S, Stoney CM, Farrell MM, Glasgow RE. Use of PRECIS ratings in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. Trials. 2016;17(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s13063-016-1158-y. PMID: 26772801. PMCID: PMC4715340.
You can read more about the NIH Collaboratory PCTs featured as part of this project at the following links:

ABATE (Active Bathing to Eliminate Infection)

LIRE (A pragmatic trial of Lumbar Image Reporting with Epidemiology)

PPACT (Collaborative Care for Chronic Pain in Primary Care)

STOP-CRC (Strategies & Opportunities to Stop Colon Cancer in Priority Populations)

TIME (Time to Reduce Mortality in End-Stage Renal Disease)
Additional Resources

An introductory slide set on PCTs (by study author Karin Johnson) is available from the Living Textbook:

Introduction to Pragmatic Clinical Trials

The University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus publishes an electronic textbook on pragmatic trials:

Pragmatic Trials: A workshop Handbook

 

 

 

Findings from STOP CRC on Pragmatic Trial Recruitment


Gloria Coronado, PhD, and Beverly Green, MD, MPH, Principal Investigators, STOP CRC Trial
Gloria Coronado, PhD, and Beverly Green, MD, MPH, Principal Investigators, STOP CRC Trial

Drs. Beverly Green and Gloria Coronado and colleagues have published an article in Clinical Trials describing the challenges of recruiting participants into large, multisite pragmatic clinical trials—particularly at the health system level. STOP CRC is one of the NIH Collaboratory’s pragmatic clinical trial Demonstration Projects, which are intended to provide a framework of implementation methods and best practices to enable participation of varied health care systems in clinical research.

STOP CRC is testing a culturally tailored, health care system–based program to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in a community-based collaborative network of federally qualified health centers. The authors observed that recruiting sites to participate in pragmatic trials is time-intensive and involves both preparing materials and organizing face-to-face meetings with staff and clinic leaders. Yet little is known about the characteristics of nonparticipating sites and clinic-level factors that may influence willingness to participate in a pragmatic trial.

“Our findings underscore the importance of assessing and reporting recruitment success at the organizational and/or clinic level in order to know the external validity of the findings and may inform future efforts to select and recruit health systems to participate in pragmatic research.” (Coronado, et al. Clin Trials 2015)


Modernizing the Common Rule for the 21st Century


The New England Journal of Medicine today published a perspective by NIH Deputy Directory Kathy L. Hudson, PhD, and NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, in which they outline the major reforms proposed for regulations governing the ethical conduct of research involving humans, known as the Common Rule (45 CFR 46, Subpart A).

The proposed changes are meant to enhance respect for research participants, calibrate oversight to level of risk, simplify consent documents, streamline IRB review, increase privacy and security safeguards, and facilitate broad participation in research.

“These long-overdue reforms will bring the Common Rule into the 21st century. They should help the scientific community take a giant leap forward in showing respect for research participants, without whom the biomedical research enterprise would cease to exist.”

The NIH is encouraging all stakeholders—the public, researchers, and patients—to closely review the proposed changes and participate in the comment process by the December 7, 2015, deadline.

For more information on the proposed revisions:

Grand Rounds Presentation, Kathy Hudson (video)

Department of Health and Human Services' website on the NPRM 

OHRP Webinars on the NPRM

Living Textbook Chapter: Informed Consent: Emerging Issues and Controversies

Designing Fit-for-Purpose Trials with PRECIS-2


Few clinical trials are entirely explanatory (done in an idealized setting) or entirely pragmatic (done in a usual-care setting); rather, trials are situated somewhere along a continuum of applicability. Pragmatic clinical trials are trials designed with pragmatic qualities and are intended to inform decision makers, including patients, clinicians, administrators, and policymakers, about the relative benefits, burdens, and risks of a health intervention.

To help trialists assess how closely their trial’s design matches its intended purpose, a group of trialists and methodologists developed a design tool, the Pragmatic–Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary, or PRECIS. Originally implemented in 2008, the wheel-shaped indicator tool recently underwent a revision, leading to PRECIS-2. The revised, validated tool guides trialists to prospectively consider the design of their trial along 9 domains: eligibility criteria, recruitment, setting, organization, flexibility (delivery), flexibility (adherence), follow-up, primary outcome, and primary analysis.

PRECIS-2 Wheel
PRECIS-2 Wheel*

*Kirsty Loudon et al. BMJ 2015;350:bmj.h2147. Copyright 2015 by British Medical Journal Publishing Group. Used by permission.

See the PRECIS-2 introductory video (YouTube) and below links for detailed user information.

Health Informatics Centre website
PRECIS-2 Toolkit
Wheel examples

OHRP Town Hall Meeting to Discuss NPRM


The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) has announced a public Town Hall Meeting to be held October 20, 2015, to respond to questions related to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published on September 8, 2015.

The goal of the NPRM is to modernize, strengthen, and make more effective the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects that was promulgated as a Common Rule in 1991. The NPRM seeks comments on proposals to better protect human subjects involved in research, while facilitating valuable research and reducing burden, delay, and ambiguity for investigators.

The purpose of the Town Hall Meeting (agenda) is for OHRP, HHS agencies, and other Common Rule departments and agencies to provide responses to questions from the public about the NPRM in order to clarify the NPRM proposals and better inform public comment on the NPRM. The public will be able to ask questions during the Town Hall Meeting, and to submit questions before the meeting. Watch via webinar.

Public Town Hall Meeting 
October 20, 2015, 9 am to 5 pm
Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Great Hall
200 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20201

This PDF document (#2015-25564) contains details about the format of the public Town Hall Meeting and how to register or submit questions prior to the meeting.

Important deadlines:

  • While there is no registration fee, individuals planning to attend the Town Hall in person must register by 5:00 pm October 13, 2015. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and may be completed by sending an email to OHRP@hhs.gov, with the subject line “Registration for OHRP Town Hall Meeting.”
  • The deadline for submission of questions about the NPRM prior to the Town Hall Meeting must be received no later than 5:00 pm October 13, 2015.
  • Details on the NPRM are at the OHRP website. To be assured consideration, comments on the NPRM must be received no later than the extended deadline of January 6, 2016.

 

PCORnet Posts Aspirin Study Protocol for Public Review and Comment


PCORnetThe National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) has recently made a draft protocol for its first randomized clinical trial available for stakeholder review. Researchers, clinicians, patients and the public are all invited to read the current draft of the study protocol and provide comments and feedback.

The ADAPTABLE Study (PDF), which will investigate whether lower- or higher-dose aspirin is better for preventing heart attack and stroke in patients at risk for heart disease, is PCORnet’s first randomized pragmatic clinical trial. Designed to leverage PCORnet’s Clinical Data Research Networks (CDRNs) and Patient-Powered Research Networks (PPRNs), the trial will serve as twofold purpose: answering a clinical question of direct importance for patients, families, and healthcare providers, and serving as a demonstration of PCORnet’s capabilities in conducting clinical research on a national scale.

Links to the proposed study protocol, a survey tool for capturing feedback, and other information about ADAPTABLE Study, including press releases, fact sheets, and infographics, are available at the link below:

ADAPTABLE: The Aspirin Study

Follow PCORnet on Twitter @PCORnetwork for updates on the ADAPTABLE #ClinicalTrial


Patient-Reported Outcomes Workshop Report Available


Tools for ResearchIn January of 2015, the NIH HCS Collaboratory’s Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Core Group convened a 2-day workshop in Baltimore devoted to identifying barriers and possible solutions to the use of NIH-supported PRO tools in comparative-effectiveness research (CER).

Findings from the meeting, which include case study presentations and reflections from multiple stakeholders representing the research, clinical, and patient communities, were distilled into a summary document available from the NIH Collaboratory Knowledge Repository at the link below:

The workshop summary is also available on the Living Textbook’s “Tools for Research” section, under “Patient-Reported Outcomes White Paper.


ClinicalTrials.gov Analysis Dataset Available from CTTI

Tools for ResearchAs part of a project that examined the degree to which sponsors of clinical research are complying with federal requirements for the reporting of clinical trial results, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) and the authors of the study are making the primary dataset used in the analysis available to the public. The full analysis dataset, study variables, and data definitions are available as Excel worksheets from the CTTI website and on the Living Textbook’s Tools for Research page.


CTSA Working Group Unveils Accelerated Clinical Trial Agreement

A persistent problem facing the clinical research enterprise is the difficulty of negotiating the terms of contracts under which clinical trials will be performed at individual clinical research sites. For many research centers, the process is complex and protracted, and can often contribute to substantial delay in study start-up.

However, the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Master Contracts Working Group has recently developed a possible solution—the Accelerated Clinical Trial Agreement, or ACTA. The ACTA provides a standardized template for contracts between site investigators and study sponsors, one with the potential to expedite contracting and make the start-up process for clinical trials more efficient.

The ACTA, which has already been adopted by more than 50 research centers and individual is available, along with the Accelerated Confidential Disclosure Agreement (ACDA), from the CTSA’s Accelerated Research Agreements Initiative.

For further reading:

CTSA Tools - ACTA

"Use Accelerated Clinical Trial Agreement (ACTA) to Expedite Study Start-Up" (Duke Translational Medicine Institute)

Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative - Site Metrics Project Summary

Cycle time metrics for multisite clinical trials in the United States