August 14, 2018: Interview With NIH Collaboratory Leadership Highlights New Demonstration Projects

In a recent video interview, NIH Collaboratory leaders Dr. Lesley Curtis, Dr. Adrian Hernandez, and Dr. Catherine Meyers share their enthusiasm for the Collaboratory’s 6 new Demonstration Projects. The projects include new areas of expertise, such as pediatrics, new digital technologies, and the Collaboratory’s first A vs B trial.

“The new demonstration projects coming into the Collaboratory provide the opportunity to generate more knowledge and new knowledge about what works best in these settings. That’s really exciting.”—Lesley Curtis, PhD

August 10, 2018: STOP CRC Trial Finds Higher Rates of Colorectal Cancer Screening in Community Clinics Using an EHR-Based Outreach Tool

The primary results of the Strategies and Opportunities to Stop Colorectal Cancer in Priority Populations (STOP CRC) trial, an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project, were published online this week in JAMA Internal Medicine. The analysis found that colorectal cancer screening rates were higher in community clinics that implemented a mailed fecal immunochemical test (FIT) outreach program than in clinics that practiced usual care. The improved screening rates occurred despite low and highly variable rates of implementation of the program among participating clinics.

Almost half of eligible adults in the United States are not up to date with recommended screening for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Screening rates are especially low among racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations, including those served at federal qualified health center clinics.

The STOP CRC trial tested a program to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in 26 clinics within 8 federal qualified health centers. The intervention involved embedding a tool in the electronic health record to identify patients who were overdue for colorectal cancer screening, mailing a FIT kit and reminder letter to eligible patients, and implementing a practice improvement process at participating clinics. Of the 26 clinics in the study, 13 received the intervention and 13 practiced usual care.

Compared with clinics that practiced usual care, intervention clinics had a significantly higher proportion of participants who completed a FIT (3.4 percentage points) and any colorectal cancer screening (3.8 percentage points). The higher screening rates occurred despite another important finding of the study, that low rates of implementation of the intervention were common. Higher rates of implementation were correlated with higher rates of FIT completion.

The STOP CRC experience offers lessons on how to use electronic health records to improve guideline-based screening. In a recent NIH Collaboratory Grand Rounds, investigators Dr. Gloria Coronado and Dr. Beverly Green presented findings from the trial and lessons from the implementation of the intervention. Download a study snapshot about the STOP CRC trial.

Additional reading:

Read the press release from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research: Community Health Centers Can Help Boost Rates of Colorectal Cancer Screening, Kaiser Permanente Study Shows

Read Dr. Beverly Green’s blog post on the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute’s Healthy Findings blog: Community Health Centers Can Boost Colon Cancer Screening

August 9, 2018: New Interview with Dr. David Shurtleff about the NIH Collaboratory

In a recent video interview, Dr. David Shurtleff, acting director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), discusses the unique work of the Collaboratory in bringing together multiple NIH Institutes and Centers to develop best practices, methods, guidance, and tools for conducting rigorous pragmatic research.

“The Collaboratory has been transformative in how it’s developed a novel, supportive infrastructure to conduct pragmatic research in a way that allows it to be embedded within healthcare systems.” David Shurtleff, PhD

July 30, 2018: Learn More About the New NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects

Check out the new program materials from the Collaboratory:

Study information for the 6 new UG3 Demonstration Projects:

  • ACP PEACE: Improving Advance Care Planning in Oncology: A Pragmatic, Cluster-Randomized Trial Integrating Patient Videos and Clinician Communication Training
  • EMBED: Pragmatic Trial of User-Centered Clinical Decision Support to Implement Emergency Department-Initiated Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder
  • GGC4H: Pragmatic Trial of Parent-Focused Prevention in Pediatric Primary Care: Implementation and Adolescent Health Outcomes in Three Health Systems (Guiding Good Choices for Health)
  • Nudge: Personalized Patient Data and Behavioral Nudges to Improve Adherence to Chronic Cardiovascular Medications
  • PRIM-ER: Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine
  • HiLo: Pragmatic Trial of Higher vs. Lower Serum Phosphate Targets in Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis

In addition, the May 2018 Steering Committee Meeting materials are now available, including presentations from the UG3 and UH3 Demonstration Projects and the full-day intensive workshop “Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Therapeutic A vs. B Interventions.”

July 16, 2018: JAMA Editorial Highlights mSToPS Trial, Discusses Strengths and Challenges of Pragmatic Clinical Trials

recent editorial in JAMA highlights the mHealth Screening to Prevent Strokes (mSToPS) randomized clinical trial in a discussion of the strengths and challenges of pragmatic clinical trials. The mSToPS trial, which studied patients at increased risk of atrial fibrillation who used a self-applied electrocardiogram sensor patch, found that immediate monitoring, compared with delayed monitoring, led to a higher rate of diagnosis after 4 months.

The editorial’s authors, Dr. Eric Peterson of Duke University and Dr. Robert Harrington of Stanford University, describe the mSToPS trial as an “innovative example of the potential (and challenges) inherent in a pragmatic IT trial.” The trial “scores quite high for its pragmatic approach” while offering lessons in the trade-offs that such an approach often requires.

The editorial notes that efforts like the NIH Collaboratory are bringing about innovations in health systems collaborations and clinical data platforms that “could provide the ideal setting to conduct highly pragmatic and efficient [randomized clinical trials] of the benefits, risks, and costs associated with novel health IT solutions.”

June 14, 2018: NIH Collaboratory Members to Host Session on Embedded PCTs at AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting

The upcoming AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, June 24-26, 2018, will feature a special session on Embedding Pragmatic Clinical Trials in Health Care Systems: Trials and Tribulations, Monday, June 25, at 5:15 pm, hosted by members of the Health Care Systems Interactions Core Working Group:

Chair: Cathy Meyers, MD, NIH/NICCH

Discussant: Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Speakers: Vince Mor, PhD, Brown University School of Public Health; Greg Simon, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; and Lynn DeBar, PhD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, this large gathering of health services researchers and policy analysts will include workshops, poster and podium sessions, emerging issues panels, policy roundtables, and special topic sessions. Other NIH Collaboratory members planning to present at the meeting include Leah Tuzzio, MPH, Jerry Jarvik, MD, MPH, Miguel Vazquez, MD, Kathryn James, MPH, Gloria Coronado, PhD, and Beverly Green, MD, MPH.

 “Attendees will learn about the challenges of pilot testing, studying patient-reported outcomes, using existing data, and the multiple levels of implementation in dynamic systems.” – Leah Tuzzio, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

For details, visit the meeting event site at http://www.academyhealth.org/events/site/2018-annual-research-meeting.

June 4, 2018: New Article Explores Misleading Use of the Label “Pragmatic” for Some Randomized Clinical Trials

A recent study published in BMC Medicine found that many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) self-labeled as “pragmatic” were actually explanatory in nature, in that they assessed investigational medicines compared with placebo to test efficacy before licensing. Of the RCTs studied, one-third were pre-licensing, single-center, or placebo-controlled trials and thus not appropriately described as pragmatic.

Appropriately describing the design and characteristics of a pragmatic trial helps readers understand the trial’s relevance for real-world practice. The authors explain that RCTs suitably termed pragmatic compare the effectiveness of 2 available medicines or interventions prescribed in routine clinical care. The purpose of such pragmatic RCTs is to provide real-world evidence for which interventions should be recommended or prioritized.

The authors recommend that investigators use a standard tool, such as the CONSORT Pragmatic Trials extension or the PRECIS-2 tool, to prospectively evaluate the pragmatic characteristics of their RCTs. Use of these tools can also assist funders, ethics committees, and journal editors in determining whether an RCT has been accurately labeled as pragmatic.

The BMC Medicine article cites NIH Collaboratory publications by Ali et al. and Johnson et al., as well as the Living Textbook, in its discussion of pragmatic RCTs and the tools available to assess their relevance for real-world practice.

“Submissions of RCTs to funders, research ethics committees, and peer-reviewed journals should include a PRECIS-2 tool assessment done by the trial investigators. Clarity and accuracy on the extent to which an RCT is pragmatic will help [to] understand how much it is relevant to real-world practice.” (Dal-Ré et al. 2018)

May 5, 2018: New Article Explores Opportunities for Funding the Training of Future Health Services Researchers

In a new article, Dr. Vincent Mor, an NIH Collaboratory investigator, and Dr. Paul Wallace describe the history, current status, and opportunities for funding training in health services research (HSR). While the number of organizations seeking to solve problems with health services research has been expanding, direct government support for HSR is declining. The authors project 5 key challenges for the field and its professional development:

  • Formulating and prioritizing research topics
  • Whether to use team- or individual-based approaches
  • How new data sources, analytic methods, and the need for faster results affect supply and demand for HSR
  • Shifts from public to institutional funding and the associated effects on generalizability
  • Balancing proprietary concerns regarding data, predictive models, and study results with the need to improve public health and rapidly disseminate information

According to the authors, sustainable solution will involve active collaboration between those who use HSR as a part of decision-making (and will likely pay for it) and those who produce it.

“We believe that the key change needed to productively address the above challenges will be a closer collaboration between HSR users, especially health systems, and academic HSR training programs to work towards producing timely, internally relevant, and externally generalizable knowledge (Mor and Wallace 2018).”

Dr. Mor is a principal investigator for the Pragmatic Trial of Video Education in Nursing Homes (PROVEN) trial, one of the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects.

Mor V, Wallace P. 2018.  Funding the Training of Future Health Services Researchers. Health Services Research. doi:10.1111/1475-6773.12844.

April 27, 2018: Collaboratory Investigators Pen Editorial Calling for Pragmatic Trials of Nonpharmacologic Dementia Interventions

NIH Collaboratory investigators Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Vincent Mor coauthored an editorial for an upcoming issue of JAMDA highlighting the need for pragmatic trials of nonpharmacologic interventions in Alzheimer disease and related dementias. The editorial summarizes conclusions from a recent workshop at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), where experts discussed the state of the science for pragmatic trials to improve dementia care.

The goals of the NIA workshop were (1) to identify criteria for determining the readiness of dementia interventions for pragmatic trials, and (2) to describe the research infrastructure needed to support such trials.

Read the full editorial: Identifying and Supporting Nonpharmacological Dementia Interventions Ready for Pragmatic Trials: Results From an Expert Workshop

Drs. Mitchell and Mor are co-principal investigators of the NIH Collaboratory’s Pragmatic Trial of Video Education in Nursing Homes (PROVEN), which is evaluating the effectiveness of advance care planning video tools in nursing home settings. The editorial mentions that a supportive infrastructure for pragmatic research in dementia could be modeled after the NIH Collaboratory’s Coordinating Center, including Core Working Groups “focused on building investigator capacity, supporting pragmatic trial design, and maintaining the resource and knowledge base.”

Full citation: Baier RR, Mitchell SL, Jutkowitz E, Mor V. Identifying and supporting nonpharmacological dementia interventions ready for pragmatic trials: results from an expert workshop. J Am Med Dir Assoc. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2018.02.011.