Dr. Kevin Weinfurt and colleagues in the Regulatory/Ethics Core of the NIH Collaboratory recently published an article in the American Journal of Bioethics regarding how acceptable different approaches to notification and authorization are to potential participants in pragmatic research. The authors conducted a series of interviews using 24 different hypothetical scenarios reflecting different types of studies and approaches to notification and authorization.
- People have significant difficulty understanding 1) randomization and 2) that all the data are collected during routine care, and no extra visits or tests are required.
- For some types of pragmatic research, many of the respondents viewed
- Active alternatives to written consent—such as oral consent—as acceptable.
- Less active approaches to notification—such as no notification ahead of time or broad notification—as unacceptable.
- When using written consent in cases where researchers are testing accepted medical interventions that have known clinical risks but with no incremental risks of participating in the research, it was acceptable to omit the clinical risks from the consent documents, thereby shortening the forms.
- A significant portion (28-49%) of respondents would decline to participate regardless of notification approach, which could lead to non-trivial consent bias (in other words, there could be significant differences in people who decline vs people who agree to participate).
Based on these findings, the authors suggest alternate approaches to notification and authorization should be further developed and tested.
Read the full article here.
A new funding opportunity announcement from the NIH solicits applications to support Demonstration Projects that include an efficient, large-scale pragmatic clinical trial. Trials must be conducted across two or more health care systems (HCS) and must be conducted as part of the NIH HCS Research Collaboratory supported through the NIH Common Fund. Awards made through this FOA will initially support a one-year milestone-driven planning phase (UG3), with possible rapid transition to the second implementation phase (UH3) for a pragmatic trial Demonstration Project.
Access the full funding announcement: RFA-RM-16-019
Important Due Dates
Earliest submission date: May 2, 2017
Letter of intent date: 30 days prior to application due date
Application due date: June 2, 2017
The study team for the Trauma Survivors Outcomes and Support (TSOS) trial recently published their study protocol in Implementation Science. TSOS, an NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory Demonstration Project, is an effectiveness-implementation hybrid trial designed to test the delivery of screening and intervention for PTSD and comorbidities across 24 U.S. level I trauma center sites. The study employs a stepped-wedge, cluster-randomized design in which sites are randomized sequentially to initiate the intervention. The study aims to determine if injured patients receiving a collaborative care intervention demonstrate significant reductions in PTSD symptoms when compared with control patients receiving usual care. The study will also evaluate whether intervention patients demonstrate significant reductions in depressive symptoms and associated suicidal ideation, alcohol use problems, and improvements in physical function.
The open access article is available here: An effectiveness-implementation hybrid trial study protocol targeting posttraumatic stress disorder and comorbidity
In a recent post on the FDA’s “FDA Voice” blog, Associate Deputy Commissioner Rachel Sherman and Commissioner Robert Califf describe how to overcome barriers to data sharing and create a successful national system for medical evidence generation (or “EvGen”). To foster new approaches for creating clinical evidence the authors suggest 3 principles:
“1. There must be a common approach to how data is presented, reported and analyzed and strict methods for ensuring patient privacy and data security.
2. Rules of engagement must be transparent and developed through a process that builds consensus across the relevant ecosystem and its stakeholders.
3. To ensure support across a diverse ecosystem that often includes competing priorities and incentives, the system’s output must be intended for the public good and be readily accessible to all stakeholders.”
Drs. Sherman and Califf point to substantial pioneering work being done in secondary use of data, in which data collected for clinical care are “secondarily” used for research, including projects currently underway through the NIH Collaboratory, PCORnet, and other initiatives and networks. The experience gained from these groundbreaking efforts should provide a foundation for a national system for evidence generation.
Read the full post here.
The Active Bathing to Eliminate (ABATE) Infection trial was conducted in nearly 200 non-critical care hospital units across the United States. The ABATE study team developed a training video to teach nurses and nursing assistants how to approach patients to administer a bath with a topical antiseptic agent containing chlorhexidine (CHG), or help patients take a shower using the liquid CHG soap. If the results of the trial demonstrate a reduction in unit-attributable infections or multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) burden for the intervention units, this video could be used to train nurses and staff to implement CHG bathing in healthcare systems around the nation.
The ABATE trial (ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT02063867) is a large-scale, cluster-randomized pragmatic clinical trial (PCT) designed to assess a bathing approach for reducing multidrug-resistant organisms and hospital-associated infections (HAIs) in patients hospitalized in non-critical care units. Patients were bathed either according to the hospital unit’s usual care procedures (the control group) or bathed with a topical antiseptic agent containing chlorhexidine (CHG; the intervention group). Patients in the intervention group could shower using liquid CHG soap and a mesh sponge, or have a self-assisted or nurse-assisted bed bath using the CHG cloths. If a patient in the intervention group was colonized with, infected with, or had a recent history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the antibiotic mupirocin was additionally administered nasally for 5 days.
The investigators hypothesize that this regimen will reduce the burden of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in these units and translate to a reduction in overall bloodstream and urinary tract infections. They will also evaluate its ability to reduce antibiotic-resistant gram-negative bacteria and Clostridium difficile.
The ABATE Infection Trial has been conducted in hospitals in the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) health system and is an NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory UH3 Demonstration Project supported by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Common Fund at the National Institutes of Health. This video was created and scripted for the trial by study investigators and filmed by Sage Products, LLC.
Watch the training video here.
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.
Investigators from the STOP CRC pragmatic trial, an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project, have recently published an article in the journal eGEMs describing solutions to issues that arose in the trial’s implementation phase. STOP CRC tests a program to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in a collaborative network of Federally Qualified Health Centers by mailing fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) kits to screen-eligible patients at clinics in the intervention arm. Clinics in the control arm provided opportunistic colorectal-cancer screening to patients at clinic visits in Year 1 and implemented the intervention in Year 2. In this cluster-randomized trial, clinics are the unit of analysis, rather than individual patients, with the primary outcome being the proportion of screen-eligible patients at each clinic who complete a FIT.
The team dealt with various challenges that threatened the validity of their primary analysis, one of which related to potential contamination of the primary outcome due to the timing of the intervention rollout: for control participants, the Year 2 intervention actively overlapped with the Year 1 control measurements. The other challenge was due to a lack of synchronization between the measurement and accrual windows. To deal with these issues, the team had to slightly modify the study design in addition to developing a few sensitivity analyses to better estimate the true impact of the intervention.
“While the nature of the challenges we encountered are not unique to pragmatic trials, we believe they are likely to be more common in such trials due to both the types of designs commonly used in such studies and the challenges of implementing system-based interventions within freestanding health clinics.” (Vollmer et al. eGEMs 2015)
The Publish EDM Forum Community publishes eGEMs (generating evidence & methods to improve patient outcomes) and provides free and open access to this methods case study. Readers can access the article here.
The 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
In 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.”
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved the first pragmatic clinical trial to be performed through the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet)—the ADAPTABLE study (Aspirin Dosing: A Patient-centric Trial Assessing Benefits and Long-term Effectiveness).
Over the course of the trial, 20,000 study participants with cardiovascular disease will be randomly assigned to receive one of two commonly used doses of aspirin—a low dose of 81 mg per day versus a higher dose of 325 mg per day—in order to determine which provides the optimal balance between protecting patients with cardiovascular disease from heart attack and stroke, and minimizing bleeding events associated with aspirin therapy. The trial will also employ a number of innovative methods, including electronic health record (EHR)-based data collection and a patient-centered, web-based enrollment model in partnership with the Health eHeart Alliance Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN).
The ADAPTABLE trial, which includes six of PCORnet’s Clinical Data Research Networks (CDRNs), will be led and coordinated through the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).
Read more about the ADAPTABLE Aspirin Trial here:
Fact Sheet (PDF)
DCRI Coordinating Center Announcement