CTSA-PCORnet Webinar: A Central IRB Approach


The webinar copresented on March 2, 2016, by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program and PCORnet is available as a video and slideset.

Petra Kaufmann, MD, MSc
Director, Office of Rare Diseases Research and Division of Clinical Innovation
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
National Institutes of Health

Rachael Fleurence, PhD
Program Director, CER Methods and Infrastructure Program
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Sabune J. Winkler, JD
Director, Regulatory Affairs Operations
Harvard Catalyst

Webinar details:
March 2, 2016
3pm - 4pm ET
To join the WebEx, click here: http://bit.ly/1TGRTFS
Call-in number: 1-855-244-8681
Access code: 737 807 582

Special Issue Published on Ethical & Regulatory Complexities of Pragmatic Clinical Trials


Tools for ResearchA new series of 12 articles published in a special issue of the journal Clinical Trials addresses ethical and regulatory challenges particular to pragmatic clinical research. Pragmatic clinical trials are designed to efficiently provide answers to important clinical questions, yet they present special challenges in conforming to the ethical and regulatory guidelines that were developed for more traditional clinical research. The special issue describes these challenges and begins to outline possible solutions that will protect the rights and welfare of research participants while allowing pragmatic clinical trials to gather much-needed evidence for informing healthcare decisions. An introductory article is followed by 11 articles addressing individual topics, such as alteration of informed consent, privacy, gatekeepers, and defining minimal risk research. The effort was funded by the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, with additional support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and involved diverse groups of stakeholders, including researchers, patient advocates, bioethicists, and regulatory experts. Robert M. Califf, MD, and Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, were editors of the special issue.

For more information:


Closer Partnerships Needed Between Researchers and Healthcare Executives


Larson-JohnsonIn a commentary published this week in Modern Healthcare, Eric Larson, MD, MPH, and Karin Johnson, PhD, of Group Health Research Institute, argue that greater collaboration is needed between clinical researchers and healthcare system executives to address a “a gap between research approaches and delivery system needs.” Perspectives gathered through a survey and Institute of Medicine workshop with healthcare executives indicated that research is not conducted fast enough or designed in a way that facilitates translation of evidence into clinical practice. The NIH Collaboratory and National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) are cited as examples of effective partnerships between researchers and healthcare leaders; these research programs are addressing high-priority clinical questions and generating actionable knowledge. According to Drs. Larson and Johnson, pragmatic clinical trials and big data offer opportunities to create a learning health system, but this will require combining the perspectives and expertise of researchers and stakeholders from healthcare delivery systems. Drs. Larson and Johnson are part of the NIH Collaboratory’s Health Care Systems Interactions Core, a working group that “aims to support and facilitate productive collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and health system leaders.”

Related links:


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.


In the News: Increase in Use of Personal Health Data


An explosion in the collection of personal data is fostering concerns about the extent to which health information is accessed—and about the privacy and confidentiality of this information. Two recent National Public Radio stories highlight a few of the burgeoning uses of these abundant data.

In the first, an insurer uses personal data to predict who will get sick so it can identify patients at highest risk for hospital admission, or readmission, and then provide them with personal health coaches. The coordinated care given to patients by the coaches (for example, arranging a visiting nurse or streamlining appointments) has been shown to improve hospitalization rates. The insurer says it follows federal health privacy guidelines for anonymity and uses the information to better serve its members.

The second story explains that results of online health searches aren’t always confidential, and data brokers are tracking information and selling it to interested parties. The author notes that data gathered on the Web are, for the most part, unregulated. Both stories raise questions about privacy and confidentiality of health information and how to best protect it.

Pragmatic clinical trials also seek to use personal health data to answer important questions on the risks, benefits, and burdens of therapeutic interventions. In a blog post in Health Affairs, Joe Selby, executive director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), underscores the need for trust, support, and active engagement of patients when involving them in health data research, even with privacy protections in place. PCORI has launched the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) as a means of harnessing large clinical data sets to study the comparative effectiveness of treatments, and a central tenet of the network is that patients, clinicians, and healthcare systems should be actively involved in the governance of the use of health information.


Read the full articles

From NPR: Insurer Uses Personal Data To Predict Who Will Get Sick
From NPR: Online Health Searches Aren't Always Confidential
From Health Affairs: Advancing the Use of Health Data in Research With PCORnet

 

PCORI Announces First PCORnet Demonstration Project: The ADAPTABLE Aspirin Study


PCORnetThe 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)
Infographic (PDF)
DCRI Coordinating Center Announcement

Study Examines Public Attitudes Toward Data-Sharing Networks


A new study examining public attitudes about the sharing of personal medical data through health information exchanges and  distributed research networks finds a mixture of receptiveness and concerns about privacy and security. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, Davis and University of California, San Diego and published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), reports results from a telephone survey of 800 California residents. Participants were asked for their opinions about the importance of sharing personal health data for research purposes and their feelings about related issues of security and privacy, as well as the importance of notification and permission for such sharing.

The authors found that a majority of respondents felt that sharing health data would “greatly improve” the quality of medical care and research. Further, many either somewhat or strongly agreed that the potential benefits of sharing data for research and care improvement outweighed privacy considerations (50.8%) or the right to control the use of their personal information (69.8%), although study participants also indicated that transparency regarding the purpose of any data sharing and controlling access to data remained important considerations.

However, the study’s investigators also found evidence of widespread concern over privacy and security issues, with substantial proportions of respondents reporting a belief that data sharing would have negative effects on the security (42.5%) and privacy (40.3%) of their health data. The study also explored attitudes about the need to obtain permission for sharing health data, as well as whether attitudes toward sharing data differed according to the purpose (e.g., for research vs. care) and the groups or individuals among which the data were being shared.

The authors note that while data-sharing networks are increasingly viewed as a crucial tool for enabling research and improving care on a national scale, they ultimately rely upon trust and acceptance from patients. As such, the long-term success of efforts aimed at building effective data-sharing networks may depend on accurately understanding the views of patients and accommodating their concerns.


Read the full article here: 

Kim KK, Joseph JG, Ohno-Machado L. Comparison of consumers' views on electronic data sharing for healthcare and research. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2015 Mar 30. pii: ocv014. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocv014. [Epub ahead of print]

The National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) Adopts Definitions for Information Provided by Patients

The NaTools for Researchtional Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) Task Force has released a new white paper that delineates definitions for data contributed by patients. They hope to facilitate the incorporation of information provided by patients across the networks and to maximize data sharing and interoperability by operationalizing the terms within PCORnet.

The following three terms were adopted to describe the patient-contributed data collected across PCORnet:

PATIENT-REPORTED OUTCOME (PRO): a report that comes directly from the patient about the status of a patient’s health condition without amendment or interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.

PATIENT-CENTERED OUTCOMES: outcomes that matter to patients

PATIENT-GENERATED HEALTH DATA: health-related data (such as health history, symptoms, biometric data, treatment history, lifestyle choices, and other information) that are created, recorded, gathered, or inferred by or from patients or their designees (i.e., care partners or those who assist them) to help address a health concern. Patient-generated health data include patient-reported outcomes.

The white paper can be found under Patient-Reported Outcomes White Papers on the Tools for Research page on the living textbook, or accessed directly here (PDF).

Report from NIH Collaboratory Workshop Examines Ethical and Regulatory Challenges for Pragmatic Cluster Randomized Trials

A new article by researchers from the NIH Collaboratory, published online this week in the journal Clinical Trials, explores some of the challenges facing physicians, scientists, and patient groups who are working to develop innovative methods for performing clinical trials. In the article, authors Monique Anderson, MD, Robert Califf, MD, and Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, MA, describe and summarize discussions from a Collaboratory workshop on ethical and regulatory issues relating to pragmatic cluster-randomized trials.


Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized Trials

Many of the clinical trials that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new therapies do so by assigning individual volunteers to receive either an experimental treatment or a comparator, such as an existing alternative treatment, or a placebo. However, this process can be complex, expensive, and slow to yield results. Further, because these studies often take place in specialized research settings and involve patients who have been carefully screened, there are  concerns that the results gathered from such trials may not be fully applicable to “real-world” patient populations.

For these reasons, some researchers, patients, and patient advocacy groups are interested in exploring different methods for conducting clinical trials, including designs known as pragmatic cluster-randomized trials, or CRTs. In a pragmatic CRT, groups of individuals (such as a clinic, hospital, or even an entire health system) are randomly assigned to receive one of two or more interventions being compared, with a focus on answering questions about therapies in the setting of actual clinical practice—the “pragmatic” part of “pragmatic CRT.”

Pragmatic CRTs have the potential to answer important questions quickly and less expensively, especially in an era in which patient data can be accessed directly from electronic health records. Just as importantly, that knowledge can then be fed back to support a “learning healthcare system” that is constantly improving in its approach to patient care.  However, while cluster-randomized trials are not themselves new, their widespread use in patient-care settings raises a number of potential challenges.

For example: in a typical individually randomized clinical trial, patients are enrolled in a study only after first providing written informed consent. However, in a CRT, the entire hospital may be assigned to provide a given therapy. In such a situation, how should informed consent be handled? How should patients be notified that research is taking place, and that they may be part of it? Will they be able to “opt out” of the research? What will happen to the data collected during their treatment? And what do federal regulations governing clinical trials have to say about this? These are just a few of the questions raised by the use of pragmatic CRTs in patient-care settings.


The NIH Collaboratory Workshop on Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized Trials

The NIH Collaboratory Workshop of Pragmatic CRTs, held in Bethesda, Maryland in July of 2103, convened a panel of experts in clinical trials, research ethics, and regulatory issues to outline the challenges associated with conducting  pragmatic CRTs and to explore ways for better understanding and overcoming them. Over the course of the intensive 1-day workshop, conference participants identified key areas for focused attention. These included issues relating to informed consent, patient privacy, oversight of research activities, insuring the integrity of data gathered during pragmatic CRTs, and special protections for vulnerable patient populations. The article by Anderson and colleagues provides a distillation of discussions that took place at the workshop, as well as noting possible directions for further work.

In the coming months and years, the NIH Collaboratory and its partners, including the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), plan to build on this workshop experience. Together, they hope to explore these issues in greater detail and propose practical steps for moving forward with innovative clinical research methods, while at the same time maintaining robust protections for patients’ rights and well-being.


Jonathan McCall, MS, and Karen Staman, MS, contributed to this post.


Read the full text of the article here:

Anderson ML, Califf RM, Sugarman J. Ethical and regulatory issues of pragmatic cluster randomized trials in contemporary health systems. Clin Trials 2015 [e-Pub ahead of press].
doi:10.1177/1740774515571140 
For further reading:

Tunis SR, Stryer DB, Clancy CM. Practical clinical trials: Increasing the value of clinical research decision making in clinical and health policy. JAMA 2003;290(12):1624-32. PMID:14506122; doi:10.1001/jama.290.12.1624.

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Ethical Issues in Cluster Randomized Trials Wiki.

Special Report: Ethical Oversight of Learning Health Systems. Hastings Center Report 2013;43(s1):S2–S44, Si–Sii.

Sugarman J, Califf RM. Ethics and regulatory complexities for pragmatic clinical trials. JAMA 2014;311(23):2381-2. PMID: 24810723; doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.4164.