The NIH Collaboratory recently convened a workshop to explore embedded pragmatic clinical trials comparing two or more therapeutic medical interventions. These “A vs B” trials are meant to test existing, viable treatment alternatives where there is uncertainty about which treatment is best in which populations. There are unique barriers that make these types of pragmatic trials especially challenging to implement. For the workshop, a panel of experts gathered to discuss challenges and solutions regarding partnering with healthcare systems to conduct the trials, unique legal and ethical issues, and design and operational considerations. The summary of the workshop is now available: Workshop Summary: Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Therapeutic A vs. B Interventions
Embedded pragmatic clinical trials of therapeutic A vs. B interventions workshop videocast.
Khaled El Emam, PhD
Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Assessing and Reducing Risk of Re-identification When Sharing Sensitive Research Datasets
Clinical trials; Research ethics; Data security; Data sharing; Sensitive research data; De-identified data
The cycle of risk de-identification involves setting a risk threshold, measuring the risk, evaluating the risk, and applying transformations to reduce the risk.
The Safe Harbor method of de-identification (removal of 18 categories of data) is a legal minimum standard that does not take context into account, and may not be sufficient when sharing sensitive data publicly.
A higher standard for de-identification is the “Expert Determination” method, whereby an expert with contextual knowledge of the broader data ecosystem can determine whether the risk is “not greater than very small.”
With increasing concern about the risks of sensitive data sharing, it is important to be transparent with data participants and continue to build trust for data uses.
When is a dataset safe for sharing? What is the risk of re-identification, and how can we reduce the risk? Consider who you are releasing the data to and what other kinds of data might they have access to that could potentially lead to re-identification.
For more information on the de-identification of protected health information, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Guidance Regarding Methods for De-identification of Protected Health Information in Accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.
In a new video, Dr. Greg Simon explains the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) with an analogy to a pie eating contest. The ICC is a descriptive statistic that measures the correlations among members of a group, and it is an important tool for cluster-randomized pragmatic trials because this calculation helps determine the sample size needed to detect an effect.
“When we randomize treatments by doctors, clinics, or even whole health systems, we need to think about how things cluster, and the intraclass correlation coefficient is the measure of that clustering. When we think about sample sizes in pragmatic clinical trials, it’s important to understand what an intraclass correlation coefficient actually is.”
For most pragmatic trials, the ICC will be between 0 and 1. If the outcomes in a group are completely correlated (ICC=1), then all participants within the group are likely to have the same outcome. When ICC=1, sampling one participant from the cluster is as informative as sampling the whole cluster, and many clusters will be needed to detect an effect. If there is no correlation among members of the groups (ICC=0), then the available sample size for the study is essentially the number of participants.
In a new video, Dr. Wendy Weber, the Program Officer for the NIH Collaboratory Coordinating Center, provides some expert advice for investigators who are considering submitting an application for a pragmatic clinical trial to the NIH.
“Don’t assume that the study panel is going to understand what pragmatic means. They may have their own completely different definition than you, and it’s important that you get on the same page early on in your application.” —Wendy Weber, PhD, Acting Deputy Director, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
The NIH Collaboratory is pleased to announce new training resources available on the Living Textbook. These resources are being shared with the research community to provide guidance about building partnerships with health systems and overcoming the challenges of conducting embedded pragmatic clinical trials (ePCTs). The materials reflect the knowledge, insight, and best practices acquired by the NIH Collaboratory program and its Demonstration Projects.
Materials from the inaugural ePCT Training Workshop held in February 2018 to provide training to mid- and senior-level investigators interested in conducting ePCTs
A slide presentation of the NIH Collaboratory’s goals and organizational structure along with a brief introduction to each Demonstration Project
An infographic introducing the elements of the NIH Collaboratory program and the value of engaging in pragmatic research
A slide presentation and worksheet on essential things to think about and do when designing, conducting, and disseminating ePCTs
An introductory video from NIH Collaboratory leadership on the rationale and aims for the ePCT training resources
“The workshop reinforced that there is a demand for these kinds of training opportunities across the clinical research community.” Lesley Curtis, PhD
Kidney transplantation is the preferred treatment for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), but an insufficient organ supply renders dialysis the only viable treatment option for most patients. Though clinical outcomes among patients receiving dialysis have improved modestly in recent years, annual rates of hospitalization and mortality remain unacceptably high, and quality of life is poor. Poor outcomes are driven primarily by increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but interventions that improve outcomes in the general population by targeting traditional CVD risk factors have mostly failed in patients with ESRD. Current clinical practice guidelines advocate aggressive treatment of high serum phosphate to near-normal levels using dietary phosphate binders and restrictive diets. The benefits of this approach, however, are unproven, the optimal serum phosphate target remains unknown, and potential harms of aggressive treatment have not been definitively identified.
“The question at hand is something we grapple with on a daily basis in every dialysis facility across the country. Either answer will be important new information that will help us do a better job taking care of patients and hopefully improve their quality of life.”
HiLo is led by Myles Wolf, MD, of Duke University with support from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Read more about HiLo.
Because many clinicians do not have the skill set to engage patients in conversations about advance care planning (ACP), many older Americans with advanced cancer receive aggressive interventions at the end of life that do not reflect their values, goals, and preferences. The ACP PEACE trial is investigating whether a comprehensive approach to ACP improves patient outcomes. The program will combine two evidence-based complementary interventions: clinician communication skills training (VitalTalk) and patient video decision aids (ACP Decisions). The goal is to provide both patients and clinicians with communication skills and tools so they can make informed decisions about end-of-life care.
“We’re doing an intervention where we include videos for patients about what the possible interventions are, and we’re also training the clinicians, the oncologists and their teams to have better communication about their goals of care and about treatment planning.” —James Tulsky, MD, Co-Principal Investigator of the ACP PEACE trial.
ACP-PEACE is one of the new NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects and is led by Drs. James A. Tulsky and Angelo Volandes with support from the National Institute on Aging. Read more about ACP PEACE.
Before the end of high school, more than half of all adolescents will use an illicit drug, about a quarter will meet the criteria for depression, and many others will engage in behaviors such as delinquency and violence. Guiding Good Choices is a universal evidence-based anticipatory guidance curriculum for parents of early adolescents that has been shown to reduce adolescent alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use; depression; and delinquent behavior. Evidence-based parenting interventions shown to prevent these behavioral health concerns could improve adolescent health trajectories if implemented widely in pediatric primary care.
The Pragmatic Trial of Parent-Focused Prevention in Pediatric Primary Care: Implementation and Adolescent Health Outcomes in Three Health Systems (GGC4H: Guiding Good Choices for Health) is a cluster-randomized trial that will partner with pediatric primary care clinics to offer the training in three large, integrated healthcare systems serving socioeconomically diverse families.
“We already have an effective intervention, so we’re not trying to test whether it works or not; it’s really about getting the intervention into a population.”—Richard Catalano, PhD, co-Principal Investigator of the GGC4H trial.
GGC4H is led by Richard Catalano, PhD, Margaret Kuklinski, PhD, and Stacy Sterling, DrPH, with support from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Read more about GGC4H.
The ADAPTABLE pragmatic trial relies on patients to report key information at baseline and throughout follow-up. To capture these data, ADAPTABLE investigators developed a LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes) patient-reported item set, which is now publicly available.
ADAPTABLE (Aspirin Dosing: A Patient-Centric Trial Assessing Benefits and Long-Term Effectiveness) aims to identify the optimal dose of aspirin therapy for secondary prevention in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and is the first major randomized comparative effectiveness trial to be conducted by the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet).
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).”