On February 20-21, 2018, a group of 27 clinical investigators met in Durham to learn from the NIH Collaboratory about the design and conduct of embedded pragmatic clinical trials (ePCTs). Through the experiences of the NIH Collaboratory, much has been learned about how to launch and implement successful ePCTs. The workshop’s goal was to help investigators advance their ePCT research ideas and build a larger community of researchers capable of conducting high-quality ePCTs. Participants from across the country were selected based on a rigorous application process.
“ePCTS hold the promise of an efficient and powerful way to generate evidence. We’ve learned so much through the Collaboratory, but the knowledge is not helpful if we’re not passing it along to other clinical investigators so they can contribute even more evidence to the knowledge base,” said Kevin Weinfurt, PhD, a co-principal investigator of the NIH Collaboratory’s Coordinating Center who helped develop and organize the workshop along with a planning committee.
Representatives from the Coordinating Center, Demonstration Projects, and Core Groups were on hand to provide information, guidance, and lessons learned from their experience with the NIH Collaboratory ePCTs. The topics included an introduction to ePCTs, engaging stakeholders and aligning with healthcare system partners, designing with implementation in mind, design and analytic considerations, regulatory and ethical challenges, measuring outcomes, dissemination, and ePCT team composition. Representatives from the NIH were also in attendance and presented sessions about the importance of pilot and feasibility testing and developing a compelling application for funding. During the workshop, participants completed hands-on exercises and worked through trial design challenges with the experts and their colleagues.
“We’re trying to change the world, and to change the world you need generalizable data and interventions that are scalable. The chasm for implementation of clinical evidence is huge, and PCTs have the capacity to take great interventions and get them to the patients so that they can have impact and improve care,” said Wendy Weber, ND, PhD, MPH, acting deputy director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), and one of the workshop presenters. “While local improvements can be accomplished through quality improvement activities, if you have outcomes that matter, randomizing interventions and studying them on a large scale can provide the evidence that will make a real difference in the care of people across the United States.”
Another goal of the workshop was to pilot the educational materials and collect feedback on their quality and appropriateness from both attendees and subject matter experts. The Collaboratory Coordinating Center will use the feedback to refine the content for future workshops and educational materials. The NIH Collaboratory’s Living Textbook provided a foundation for much of the workshop, and a host of new information was presented that can be used in future materials and updates to the textbook.
The training was funded as an NIH Roadmap Initiative 3U54AT007748-05S2.