The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) has just released a free, self-paced online course on designing and analyzing pragmatic and group-randomized trials. The course, which is presented by ODP Director Dr. David Murray, includes a series of seven video presentations plus slide sets, reference materials, and guided activities.
Course segments typically last 25 to 35 minutes. Presentations can be accessed individually and include the following topics:
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.
The NIH Collaboratory has developed a tool to assist authors in the complete and transparent reporting of their pragmatic clinical trials (PCTs). In the PCT Reporting Template, users will find descriptions of reporting elements based on CONSORT guidance as well as on expertise from the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects and Core working groups.
Particularly relevant to PCTs are recommendations on how to report the use of data from electronic health records. Other elements of importance to PCTs include reporting wider stakeholder engagement, monitoring for unanticipated changes in study arms, and specific approaches to human subjects protection. The template contains numerous links to online material in the Living Textbook, CONSORT, and the Pragmatic–Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary tool known as PRECIS-2.
This resource is intended to assist authors in developing primary journal publications. It will be updated over time as new best practices emerge for the transparent reporting of PCTs.
Please note: this document opens as an Adobe PDF. If you do not have software that can open a PDF, click here to download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.
This work was supported by a cooperative agreement (U54 AT007748) from the NIH Common Fund for the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. The views presented in this document are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
Originally published on September 1, 2016.
Questions or comments can be submitted via email. Please add “Living Textbook” to the Subject line of the email.
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 mupirocinwas 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.
The Active Bathing to Eliminate (ABATE) Infection trial (ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT02063867) has completed its intervention phase—the first NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory UH3 Demonstration Project to reach this major milestone. The large-scale, cluster-randomized pragmatic clinical trial (PCT) was designed to assess an approach for reducing multidrug-resistant organisms and hospital-associated infections (HAIs) in nearly 200 non-critical care hospital units affiliated with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) across the United States.
The ABATE study is led by principal investigator Dr. Susan Huang of the University of California, Irvine, who stated “We are elated to reach the successful completion of the trial thanks to an incredible investigative team at HCA, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Rush University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and UC Irvine. We look forward to what the trial data will tell us and hope that we can continue to find effective ways to protect patients from infection.”
In the ABATE study, patients hospitalized in non-critical care units were bathed either according to the hospital unit’s usual care procedures (the control group) or bathed with the topical antibacterial agent chlorhexidine (plus nasal administration of the antibiotic mupirocin for those patients who were colonized or infected with, or had a history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] [the intervention group]). The study investigators will compare the number of unit-attributable, multidrug-resistant organisms in clinical cultures between the study arms; these organisms include vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), MRSA, and gram-negative bacteria. In addition, the investigators will compare the number of unit-attributable infections in the bloodstream and urinary tract (all pathogens) and Clostridium difficile infections. Cultures were collected at baseline and post intervention and will be assessed to determine whether resistance emerged to decolonization products.
“We are elated to reach the successful completion of the trial thanks to an incredible investigative team at HCA, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Rush University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and UC Irvine.We look forward to what the trial data will tell us and hope that we can continue to find effective ways to protect patients from infection.”
Healthcare-associated infections caused by common bacteria, including MRSA and VRE, are a leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States and are associated with upward of $6.5 billion in annual healthcare costs. Although these bacteria normally live on the skin or in the nose, under certain circumstances they can cause serious or even life-threatening infections. Hospitalized patients who are ill or who have weakened immune systems are especially at risk for such infections. Because these pathogens are resistant to many antibiotics, they can be difficult to treat.
In intensive care units (ICUs), reducing the amount of such bacteria (a process referred to as decolonization) by treating patients’ skin with chlorhexidine and their noses with mupirocin ointment has been shown to reduce MRSA infections and all-cause bacteremias. However, relatively little is known about the effects of decolonization in hospital settings outside of critical care units, although this is where the majority of such infections occur. The ABATE trial, in contrast, is testing its bathing and decolonization strategy in adult medical, surgical, oncology, and step-down units (pediatric, psychology, peri-partum, and bone marrow transplantation units were excluded).
Over the course of the study, more than a million showers and baths were taken, and all sites have completed the intervention. The next steps for the ABATE investigators are to finish strain collection over the coming weeks, and then clean, validate, and analyze the data over the coming months.
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.
Dr. Greg Simon and the Suicide Prevention Team have enrolled the first participants in the Pragmatic Trial of Population-Based Programs to Prevent Suicide Attempt. This groundbreaking study was developed by researchers at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Washington, Health Partners Medical Group in Minnesota, and Kaiser Permanente of Colorado, in collaboration with patients who have experienced suicidal thoughts or survived suicide attempts themselves.
Over 9 million adults in the United States experience suicidal thoughts, and more than 1 million adults attempt suicide each year. However, patients at risk for suicidal behavior are not routinely identified, and successful interventions for depression and suicide are not routinely implemented. New evidence suggests that patients who report frequent thoughts of death or self-harm on a commonly-used depression questionnaire are at higher risk for suicide attempt and death over the following year.
This study aims to address the significant problem of suicide by identifying patients who are at risk for suicidal behavior and testing two suicide prevention strategies. Patients at participating institutions will complete a standard depression severity questionnaire during routine clinical care, and the results will be stored in their electronic health records (EHR). Investigators will use the responses in the EHR to identify at-risk individuals, and once identified, the patients will be randomly assigned to either usual care or to two treatment programs. The first is a collaborative care-management approach; the second is an online skills training program called “Now Matters Now,” which is designed to help people manage painful emotions and stressful situations.
Dr. Huang was one 10 winners of CRF Research Achievement Awards, which are presented annually. A key report related to the ABATE project was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June of 2013.
Additional details of the award are available here.
One of the NIH Collaboratory’s initial Demonstration Projects, the Lumbar Image Reporting with Epidemiology (LIRE) study, has begun randomization in early April. The LIRE trial is designed to test whether insertingadditional epidemiological information into the lumbar spine imaging reports of patients being treated for lower back pain can help both doctors and patients to better understand and interpret the reports. This in turn could help doctors avoid subjecting patients to unnecessary tests and procedures.
LIRE is a cluster randomized trial, which means that instead of randomizing individual patients, whole clinics (one at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit; one at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, with more to follow) are randomly assigned to provide either the experimental treatment or the control treatment to patients.
Cluster-randomized trials offer a number of advantages, including the avoidance of certain kinds of bias that can effect the outcome of a study, but they also raise special issues that can require careful consideration.
The principal investigator of the LIRE trial is Dr. Jeffrey Jarvik of the University of Washington. You can read more about the LIRE trial here.