February 21, 2019: Living Textbook Offers New Content on Design and Analysis of Pragmatic Clinical Trials

Members of the NIH Collaboratory’s Biostatistics and Study Design Core contributed 3 new sections to the Living Textbook exploring issues in the design and analysis of pragmatic clinical trials. The new sections offer insights into emerging issues in embedded pragmatic clinical trials and lessons learned from the NIH Collaboratory’s first round of Demonstration Projects.

  • The Designing to Avoid Identification Bias section addresses a type of selection bias that can occur in pragmatic clinical trials that use information from electronic health records to determine study population eligibility and in which the study intervention influences who undergoes screening or receives a diagnosis in clinical care.
  • The Alternative Cluster Randomized Designs section describes alternative design choices for cluster randomized trials and their implications for statistical power and sample size calculations. Modified cluster randomized designs, such as cluster randomization with crossover, may reduce the sample size required for a pragmatic clinical trial and may be particularly feasible in trials embedded in healthcare systems with electronic health records.
  • Case Study: STOP CRC Trial explores challenges in design and analysis that were faced in the Strategies and Opportunities to Stop Colorectal Cancer in Priority Populations (STOP CRC) trial, one of the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects. The case study illustrates how the study team dealt with pragmatic issues during the planning and conduct of the trial.

In addition to contributing content to the Living Textbook, the Biostatistics and Study Design Core works with the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects to address challenges in their statistical plans and study designs during the planning phase and to develop guidance and technical documents related to study design and biostatistical issues relevant to pragmatic clinical trials.

February 13, 2019: Proposals Due for Pragmatic Trials of Acupuncture Treatment in Older Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain

Proposals are due March 15 in response to an NIH funding opportunity announcement for embedded pragmatic clinical trials that address pain management and the opioid crisis. The NIH will support 1 to 2 pragmatic trials that evaluate acupuncture treatment in older adults with chronic low back pain. The projects will join the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory as phased UG3/UH3 cooperative research.

Read the full announcement: Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Management of Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults

The request for applications is part of the NIH Heal (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, which was created in April 2018 in an effort to speed scientific solutions for addressing the national opioid public health crisis.

February 1, 2019: Promoting Effective Advance Care Planning Communication in the Elderly: The ACP-PEACE Trial (James Tulsky, MD, Angelo Volandes, MD, MPH)

Speakers

James Tulsky, MD
Chair, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Chief, Division of Palliative Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Angelo Volandes, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Topic

Promoting Effective Advance Care Planning Communication in the Elderly: The ACP-PEACE Trial

Keywords

Pragmatic clinical trial; Advance care planning; ACP PEACE; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; National Institute on Aging; Palliative care; Video declarations; Goal-concordant care; Patient preferences

Key Points

  • Many people with serious illness die without receiving goal-concordant care, and patients over the age of 65 with cancer experience this disproportionately. Helping patients engage in advance care planning (ACP) can empower them to express and record their goals so that their care can be aligned with their preferences.
  • The ACP PEACE Demonstration Project is a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, randomized trial of a comprehensive ACP program in oncology clinics at 3 health systems. It will involve a combination of 2 evidence-based programs:
    • VitalTalk teaches clinicians important communication skills in having empathic conversations with seriously ill patients.
    • ACP Decisions uses videos to promote planning and decision-making by patients and families.
  • The ACP PEACE study will monitor long-term outcomes to evaluate whether patients received the care they planned for and wanted.

Discussion Themes

The last element of the ACP PEACE trial is a video declaration (ViDec), recorded by a subset of patients. In recording the ViDec, patients are prompted by questions assessing their confidence with their decision, satisfaction, decisional regret, and patient-provider experience.

The ACP PEACE study team has a scaling strategy in place if the intervention proves effective. Implementing the intervention as standard of care will involve a culture shift from what is currently expected in health systems.

Read more about the ACP PEACE Demonstration Project in the Living Textbook.

Tags

#AdvanceCarePlanning, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1 @VitalTalk, @ACPDecisions

January 18, 2019: Pragmatic Trials in End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD): HiLo (Myles Wolf, MD, MMSc)

Speaker

Myles Wolf, MD, MMSc
Charles Johnson, MD, Professor of Medicine
Chief, Duke Nephrology
Duke University School of Medicine

Topic

Pragmatic Trials in End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD): HiLo

Keywords

Pragmatic clinical trial; HiLo; End-stage renal disease; ESRD; Kidney disease; Hypophosphatemia; Serum phosphate; Hemodialysis; A vs B trials; Clinical equipoise; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; NIDDK

Key Points

  • With high event rates and few proven therapies, patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are in desperate need of clinical innovation.
  • The NIH Collaboratory’s HiLo Demonstration Project is a pragmatic, multicenter, cluster-randomized, open-label, noninferiority outcomes trial that will compare effects of two different phosphate management strategies in patients with ESRD.
  • The study hypothesizes that, compared with strict phosphate control, less stringent control will yield noninferior rates of all-cause hospitalization among patients with ESRD undergoing hemodialysis, as well as reduce the risk of all-cause mortality, enhance markers of diet and nutrition, and improve quality of life.

Discussion Themes

Dialysis clinic dieticians will have a pivotal role in implementing HiLo. They have established a rapport with patients and are among the most motivated caregivers on dialysis teams.

Individual patient-level informed consent for the HiLo trial will be via internet-linked tablets, paper forms, and educational materials including a video. Benefits of obtaining consent include promoting adherence, direct study updates and newsletters to participants, and ability to collect additional data without involving onsite study staff.

HiLo will be the first definitive clinical trial-grade evidence for opinion-based guidelines for phosphate management. Thus, results of HiLo have the potential to rapidly influence ESRD clinical practice.

Read more about the HiLo Demonstration Project in the Living Textbook.

Tags

#ESRD, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1, @DCRINews, @DukeKidney

January 22, 2019: New Self-Paced ePCT Training Course Available

The NIH Collaboratory is pleased to announce the availability of a new self-paced, 10-module introductory course on how to design, conduct, and disseminate embedded PCTs (ePCTs). This course presents condensed material from the inaugural ePCT Training Workshop held in 2018 and provides users with important things to know and do when designing an ePCT, along with helpful links to additional learning resources within the Living Textbook.

Also available in the Living Textbook are links to videocast workshops hosted by the NIH on a range of ePCT topics including:

  • Embedded PCTs of therapeutic A versus B interventions
  • Unique opportunities for disseminating, implementing, and sustaining evidence-based practices into clinical care
  • Ethical and regulatory issues of PCTs

For these and other ePCT resources, visit the Training Resources webpage.

January 11, 2019: FDA Releases Framework for Evaluating the Use of Real-World Evidence

To help fulfill the requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act by accelerating medical product development and fostering innovation and advances in medicine, FDA recently created a framework for evaluating the use of real-world evidence. The framework is intended to help evaluate trials that use real-world data for the creation of real-world evidence.

  • Real-world data: routinely collected information about a person’s health status in the electronic health record, claims, registries, and other sources, including patient-generated sources.
  • Real-world evidence: reliable, clinical information derived from real-world data about risks, benefits, and burdens of therapies.

This framework will apply to various pragmatic clinical trials embedded in health care systems and conducted as part of routine care (and will not apply to more traditional clinical trials conducted parallel to care).

Three main considerations are included in the framework:

  1. Will the real-world data be fit for use (do they reliably and adequately represent the concept)?
  2. Will the evidence generated by the trial provide adequate evidence to help answer regulatory questions?
  3. Will the conduct of the study meet FDA regulatory requirements?

January 4, 2019: TRANSFORMing Research for Patients With Heart Failure (Robert Mentz, MD, Kevin Anstrom, PhD, Eric Eisenstein, DBA, Stephen Greene, MD, Eric Velazquez, MD)

Speakers

Robert J. Mentz, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Kevin J. Anstrom, PhD
Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Director of Biostatistics, Duke Clinical Research Institute
Duke University School of Medicine

Eric Eisenstein, DBA
Associate Professor in Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Stephen J. Greene, MD
Fellow, Division of Cardiology and Duke Clinical Research Institute
Duke University School of Medicine

Eric J. Velazquez. MD, FACP, FACC, FASE, FAHA
Robert W. Berliner Professor of Medicine, Yale University
Chief, Cardiovascular Medicine, Yale New Haven Hospital
Physician-in-Chief, Heart and Vascular Center, Yale New Haven Health

Topic

TRANSFORMing Research for Patients With Heart Failure

Keywords

Pragmatic clinical trial; Heart failure; PRECIS-2; Hospitalization; TRANSFORM-HF; Clinical equipoise; Electronic health records; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Key Points

  • The traditional approach to conducting clinical trials is unsustainable in many respects, including operational complexities, low enrollment rates, high costs, and failure to leverage existing resources. Incorporating pragmatic elements in the design of trials may improve efficiencies and conduct.
  • TRANSFORM-HF is a pragmatic trial evaluating torsemide versus furosemide treatment for long-term clinical outcomes among patients hospitalized for heart failure. Study randomization is 1:1, and the primary endpoint is all-cause mortality.
  • Advantages of trials with pragmatic designs include real-world effectiveness; broad patient/provider groups; reduced number and complexity of visits; streamlined data collection; potential for faster results; and results that will be more generalizable.

Discussion Themes

The clinical question involving starting a treatment (Should we start with furosemide or torsemide?) versus switching a treatment (Should we attempt to switch patients from furosemide to torsemide?) would seem to lead to different study designs.

While the peer review process for funding TRANSFORM-HF was challenging and required modifying the approach, it ultimately led to a better design.

Read more about PRECIS-2 domains along the explanatory-pragmatic continuum of a clinical trial in the Living Textbook.

Tags

#HeartFailure, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1, @robmentz, @SJGreene_md, @YaleCardiology, @ericjvelazquez

December 14, 2018: New Alzheimer Trial to Be Planned Using the NIH Collaboratory Distributed Research Network

A new pragmatic trial planning grant supported by the National Institute on Aging will use the NIH Collaboratory’s Distributed Research Network (DRN) to characterize eligible patients and develop an intervention that tests the value of engaging health plan members and their caregivers, in addition to prescribers, to reduce potentially harmful medication use in patients with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD).

Patients with Alzheimer disease are at high risk for “prescribing cascades,” in which patients receive multiple, potentially unnecessary drug prescriptions to address side effects of their other medications. The Controlling and Stopping Cascades Leading to Adverse Drug Effects Study in Alzheimer’s Disease (CASCADES-AD) will be an embedded pragmatic clinical trial in 2 large healthcare systems. It would be the first evaluation of a large-scale, health plan–based educational intervention to improve medication safety and reduce the occurrence of preventable medication-related complications among patients with ADRD.

The study will characterize more than 22,500 patients with ADRD who will be identified through the DRN’s distributed data resources. The NIH Collaboratory DRN enables researchers to send queries to data partners and receive aggregate data without confidential information. Through its multiple data partners, the DRN has access to data for more than 90 million lives.

View an NIH Collaboratory Grand Rounds presentation about the status of the DRN, and learn more about the DRN in the Living Textbook.

December 13, 2018: New Living Textbook Chapter: Developing a Compelling Grant Application

A new chapter in the Living Textbook provides expert advice for investigators submitting an application for a pragmatic clinical trial to the NIH. The chapter covers finding the right Program Official and opportunity announcement, writing a strong proposal, addressing review criteria, and award status.

“First and foremost, develop and clearly define a clinical research question with a testable hypothesis and then select an experimental design best suited to answering the research question. The study question drives the research design.” —From Developing a Compelling Grant Application

Dr. Wendy Weber, the Program Officer for the NIH Collaboratory Coordinating Center, and Dr. Marcel Salive, a Program Officer from the National Institute on Aging, contributed to this chapter.

December 11, 2018: Two New NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements for Pragmatic Trials Address the Opioid Crisis

The NIH has announced two new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for 7 or more embedded pragmatic clinical trials that address pain management and the opioid crisis. These projects will become part of the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory as phased UG3/UH3 cooperative research.

The two announcements are:

The announcements are part of the NIH Heal (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, which was created in April 2018 in an effort to speed scientific solutions for addressing the national opioid public health crisis.