September 14, 2018: Tips for Submitting a Pragmatic Trial Application to NIH

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)

September 10: NIH Collaboratory Launches New ePCT Training Resources

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.

Resources include:

  • 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

Visit the new training resources webpage.

September 7, 2018: Spotlight on a New Demonstration Project: HiLo

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 Pragmatic Trial of Higher vs. Lower Serum Phosphate Targets in Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis (HiLo) plans to address these clinically important questions in a large, pragmatic, cluster-randomized trial that will evaluate the effects of liberalizing the serum phosphate target (“Hi”) versus maintaining aggressive phosphate control (“Lo”) for patients receiving treatment with maintenance hemodialysis.

 “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.

September 6, 2018: Spotlight on a New Demonstration Project: ACP PEACE

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.

James Tulsky from NIH Research Collaboratory on Vimeo.

 

September 5, 2018: Spotlight on a New Demonstration Project: GGC4H

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.

August 28, 2018: ADAPTABLE Patient-Reported Health Data Codes Now Available

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.

The development of the item set is part of the ADAPTABLE Supplement, an initiative funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation to develop best practices for capturing patient-reported outcome data and optimal analytic approaches for using the data in a pragmatic clinical trial. Additional reference material can be found in the ADAPTABLE Supplement Roundtable Meeting summary, in a report describing the results of a literature review of data standards and metadata standards for variables of interest, and on GitHub. The project is expected to inform future efforts to integrate patient-reported data in the electronic health record and provide opportunities to streamline data for use in pragmatic trials. Information from the project is being added to the Living Textbook as it accumulates; learn more in the chapters on Using Electronic Health Record Data and Choosing and Specifying End Points and Outcomes.

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).

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 16, 2018: Registration Now Open for Workshop on Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Therapeutic A vs. B Interventions

Registration is now open for a one-day workshop sponsored by the NIH Common Fund and organized by NIH Collaboratory thought leaders. The workshop, to be held on May 16, will focus on expanding the understanding of a specific type of pragmatic trial, the A vs. B trial, which compares two or more distinct therapeutic medical interventions. Over the past 6 years, the NIH Collaboratory has launched Demonstration Projects that address questions of major public health importance in real-world settings with usual care as a control arm. Much has been learned about the design, conduct, and dissemination of pragmatic clinical trials through this work. As a next step, there is considerable excitement at the prospect of exploring pragmatic clinical trials for comparing medical interventions.

The workshop will include a series of moderated discussions of opportunities and approaches for partnering with healthcare systems, and other stakeholders, to conduct embedded A vs. B trials. Speakers will include representatives from NIH, FDA, OHRP, health systems, academia, and industry.

The workshop will take place from 8:00 AM – 4:15 PM ET on Wednesday, May 16. Participants can join in person at the Bethesda Marriott in Maryland or via webcast. Choose an option for attendance on the registration page.

The organizing committee for the workshop includes Adrian Hernandez & Richard Platt (Co-Chairs), Laura Dember, Susan Huang, Catherine Meyers, Wendy Weber, and Dave Wendler.

 

 

April 9, 2018: PPACT Study Design Paper Published

Congratulations to Dr. Lynn DeBar and the investigators of the Collaborative Care for Chronic Pain in Primary Care pragmatic trial for recently publishing their study design paper. One of the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects, the trial is designed to test whether a primary care–based behavioral intervention the Pain Program for Active Coping and Training (PPACT)—will provide a “more effective, safer, and more satisfactory alternative to opioid-based chronic pain treatment” than usual care for patients on chronic opioid treatment (Debar et al 2018). Learn more about this innovative trial in the article in Contemporary Clinical Trials. You can also download a trial snapshot.

Full Citation: DeBar L, Benes L, Bonifay A, et al. Interdisciplinary team-based care for patients with chronic pain on long-term opioid treatment in primary care (PPACT) – Protocol for a pragmatic cluster randomized trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2018;67:91-99. doi:10.1016/j.cct.2018.02.015

February 28, 2018: New Meeting Summary Examines How to Integrate Patient‐Reported Health Data for Pragmatic Research

A recently released summary from the ADAPTABLE Roundtable Meeting explores ways to better understand the sets of circumstances and considerations that could guide when and how to gather and integrate patient-reported health data with other data sources in pragmatic trials.

For outcomes that represent subjective experiences, such as pain, symptoms, and physical functioning, the patient is the unique and privileged source of information. Other patient-reported health data may not have a clear source of truth, such as co-morbidities and hospitalizations. In such cases, patient-reported health data may supplement, contradict, or agree with EHR and claims data. For example, medication data reported by patients might be a more accurate reflection of what patients are actually taking than medication data in the EHR, especially for over-the-counter medications.

Patient-reported health data come from various sources and can be feasibly collected in the conduct of a pragmatic clinical trial, but the optimal approaches for capturing and analyzing these data are unclear. Questions include how to integrate this information with other data collected as part of a study, including data from the EHR.

To better understand patient-reported health data and how to use them in pragmatic trials, 18 experts from 8 institutions convened at the roundtable meeting, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds including biostatistics, epidemiology, oncology, nursing, psychiatry, health policy, and regulation. Representatives from the NIH Collaboratory included Drs. Lesley Curtis and Rachel Richesson from the EHR Core and Dr. Kevin Weinfurt from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Core.

In addition to the meeting summary, two white papers are forthcoming. For more information about using patient-reported data in pragmatic trials, see the Living Textbook Chapter on Endpoints and Outcomes.

This effort was funded by Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a supplement provided to the NIH Collaboratory Coordinating Center.