August 5, 2019: New Section of Living Textbook Addresses Missing Data in Intention-to-Treat Analyses

A new section of the NIH Collaboratory’s Living Textbook of Pragmatic Clinical Trials discusses challenges associated with missing data that result from noncompliance, crossover, and dropout.

Many randomized controlled trials use an intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis to measure the real-world effects of the intervention. The newly published section, Missing Data and Intention-to-Treat Analyses, considers the population-level causal effects in these trials when there is noncompliance or missing outcome data.

“One rationale for the ITT approach is that it evaluates the real-world effects of the intervention. However, a common misconception is that the ITT analysis will be unbiased regardless of crossover or missing data.”

The new section also introduces a white paper from the NIH Collaboratory’s Biostatistics and Study Design Core, “Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials in the Presence of Noncompliance and Study Dropout.” This working document offers analysts a more detailed discussion of treatment effects in ITT analyses, including a case example and recommended strategies for estimating and reporting both ITT effects and average causal effects.

The Biostatistics and Study Design Core works with the Demonstration Project teams to create guidance and technical documents regarding study design and biostatistical issues relevant to pragmatic clinical trials.

August 2, 2019: AI and the Future of Psychiatry (Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS)

Speaker

Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke School of Medicine

Topic

AI and the Future of Psychiatry

Keywords

Artificial intelligence; Machine learning; Psychiatry; Ethical adoption of technologies; Mental health; Wearables; Mobile health

Key Points

  • There is growing evidence from randomized controlled trials of the efficacy of using digital tools in mental health diagnosis and treatment.
  • Could artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies be used to:
    • Reduce the stigma associated with mental health treatment?
    • Predict the risk for future suicide?
    • Detect Alzheimer’s years before diagnosis?
  • Categories of AI applications include low-risk apps that measure but do not diagnose, and apps used in diagnosis or treatment that must meet the same high standards of evidence as medications.
  • Clinicians still struggle with how to integrate patient data from wearable devices. AI technology might help if it could be used to synthesize the data into a risk profile for an individual.

Discussion Themes

What are the roles of stress, exercise, and sleep in mental health, and can autonomic data from wearables help explain the variance in mental health symptoms?

To develop evidence thresholds for AI, we need larger scale public-private partnerships as well as pragmatic trials addressing key clinical questions.

Read more from Dr. Doraiswamy in How to Use Technology Ethically to Increase Access to Mental Healthcare.
Tags

#AI, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1

May 3, 2019: Effect of Financial Bonus Sizes, Loss Aversion, and Increased Social Pressure on Physician Pay-for-Performance: A Randomized Trial and Cohort Study (Amol Navathe, MD, PhD)

Speaker

Amol S. Navathe, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Health Policy
University of Pennsylvania

Topic

Effect of Financial Bonus Sizes, Loss Aversion, and Increased Social Pressure on Physician Pay-for-Performance: A Randomized Trial and Cohort Study

Keywords

Behavioral economics; Performance incentives; Evidence-based quality-of-care measures; Primary care quality; Pay for performance; Value-based medicine

Key Points

  • Pay-for-performance (P4P) programs are increasingly being used by health insurers and healthcare systems to incentivize physicians to practice higher value medicine, yet the evidence for P4P to affect quality and value of care remains mixed.
  • Behavioral economic principles in this study included increased social pressure and loss aversion added to larger bonus sizes to evaluate whether the intervention would lead to higher achievement of evidence-based quality measures.

Discussion Themes

Study findings included that, while a larger bonus size was associated with significantly improved quality for chronic care patients relative to a propensity-matched comparison group, adding increased social pressure and the opportunity for loss aversion did not lead to further quality improvement.

Attrition during the trial contributed some variability to the analysis.

Read more about pay for performance in healthcare in JAMA Network Open (Navathe et al, 2019) and NEJM Catalyst (2018).

Tags

#behavioraleconomics, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1

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 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 3, 2018: FDA Calls for Comments on Proposed Rule to Allow Exceptions to the Requirement for Informed Consent in Minimal-Risk Research

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a rule to allow for a waiver or alteration of informed consent for clinical investigations posing no more than minimal risk to human participants. This rule would align FDA regulations with the Common Rule, reduce burden and costs for Institutional Review Boards, and be expected to lead to advances in healthcare.

“We expect benefits in the form of healthcare advances from minimal risk clinical investigations and from harmonization of FDA’s informed consent regulations with the Common Rule’s provision for waiver of informed consent for certain minimal risk research.” —  Federal Register /Vol. 83, No. 221

Currently, FDA allows a waiver or alteration of consent only in life-threatening situations. If aligned with the Common Rule, a waiver or alteration would be allowed if the IRB finds and documents that 1) the research involves no more than minimal risk, 2) the rights and welfare of subjects will not be adversely affected, 3) the research could not practicably be carried out without a waiver, and 4) the participants will be provided with additional pertinent information after completion of the trial.

Comments on the proposed rule are due by January 14, 2019.

October 19, 2018: A New Path Forward for Using Decentralized Clinical Trials (Jeffry Florian, PhD, Annemarie Forrest, Penny Randall, MD, MBA)

Speakers

Jeffry Florian, PhD
Clinical Analyst, Office of New Drugs
FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER)

Annemarie Forrest
Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI)

Penny Randall, MD, MBA
VP and Global Therapeutic Head, CNS
IQVIA

Topic

A New Path Forward for Using Decentralized Clinical Trials

Keywords

Decentralized clinical trials; Telemedicine; Mobile health; Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative; FDA

Key Points

  • Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) are defined as those executed through telemedicine, mobile, or local healthcare providers (HCPs), using procedures that vary from the traditional clinical trial model; for example, shipping investigational medical product directly to the trial participant.
  • DCTs are not “all or nothing.” They exist in a broad continuum and can expand the reach of traditional clinical trial sites.
  • Potential benefits of DCTs apply to all trials in all disease areas but may offer particular advantages in rare diseases, where patients are generally limited in number or are highly geographically dispersed.
  • Mobile HCP training is similar to that required for standard investigative sites: Good clinical practice, protocol-specific training, human subject protections, data protection, and clinical trial billing.

Discussion Themes

Will a decentralized trial lead to less diverse patient populations as participants will need to be technology literate and have access to technology?

Decentralized clinical trial safety monitoring plans should not be held to a higher standard than with traditional trials unless merited by a particular circumstance. It is important to develop protocol-specific safety monitoring and communication escalation plans.

Download CTTI’s recommendations for decentralized clinical trials.

Tags

#telemedicine #pctGR, @PCTGrandRounds, @Collaboratory1, @CTTI_Trials @IQVIA_global @US_FDA

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.

July 30, 2018: Learn More About the New NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects

Check out the new program materials from the Collaboratory:

Study information for the 6 new UG3 Demonstration Projects:

  • ACP PEACE: Improving Advance Care Planning in Oncology: A Pragmatic, Cluster-Randomized Trial Integrating Patient Videos and Clinician Communication Training
  • EMBED: Pragmatic Trial of User-Centered Clinical Decision Support to Implement Emergency Department-Initiated Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder
  • GGC4H: Guiding Good Choices for Health (GGC4H): Testing Feasibility and Effectiveness of Universal Parent-Focused Prevention in Three Healthcare Systems
  • Nudge: Personalized Patient Data and Behavioral Nudges to Improve Adherence to Chronic Cardiovascular Medications
  • PRIM-ER: Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine
  • HiLo: Pragmatic Trial of Higher vs. Lower Serum Phosphate Targets in Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis

In addition, the May 2018 Steering Committee Meeting materials are now available, including presentations from the UG3 and UH3 Demonstration Projects and the full-day intensive workshop “Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Therapeutic A vs. B Interventions.”

June 4, 2018: New Article Explores Misleading Use of the Label “Pragmatic” for Some Randomized Clinical Trials

A recent study published in BMC Medicine found that many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) self-labeled as “pragmatic” were actually explanatory in nature, in that they assessed investigational medicines compared with placebo to test efficacy before licensing. Of the RCTs studied, one-third were pre-licensing, single-center, or placebo-controlled trials and thus not appropriately described as pragmatic.

Appropriately describing the design and characteristics of a pragmatic trial helps readers understand the trial’s relevance for real-world practice. The authors explain that RCTs suitably termed pragmatic compare the effectiveness of 2 available medicines or interventions prescribed in routine clinical care. The purpose of such pragmatic RCTs is to provide real-world evidence for which interventions should be recommended or prioritized.

The authors recommend that investigators use a standard tool, such as the CONSORT Pragmatic Trials extension or the PRECIS-2 tool, to prospectively evaluate the pragmatic characteristics of their RCTs. Use of these tools can also assist funders, ethics committees, and journal editors in determining whether an RCT has been accurately labeled as pragmatic.

The BMC Medicine article cites NIH Collaboratory publications by Ali et al. and Johnson et al., as well as the Living Textbook, in its discussion of pragmatic RCTs and the tools available to assess their relevance for real-world practice.

“Submissions of RCTs to funders, research ethics committees, and peer-reviewed journals should include a PRECIS-2 tool assessment done by the trial investigators. Clarity and accuracy on the extent to which an RCT is pragmatic will help [to] understand how much it is relevant to real-world practice.” (Dal-Ré et al. 2018)