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Registry-based trials have emerged as a potentially cost-saving study methodology. Early estimates of cost savings, however, conflated the benefits associated with registry utilisation and those associated with other aspects of pragmatic trial designs, which might not all be as broadly applicable. In this study, we sought to build a practical tool that investigators could use across disciplines to estimate the ranges of potential cost differences associated with implementing registry-based trials versus standard clinical trials.
We built simulation Markov models to compare unique costs associated with data acquisition, cleaning, and linkage under a registry-based trial design versus a standard clinical trial. We conducted one-way, two-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses, varying study characteristics over broad ranges, to determine thresholds at which investigators might optimally select each trial design.
Registry-based trials were more cost effective than standard clinical trials 98.6% of the time. Data-related cost savings ranged from $4300 to $600,000 with variation in study characteristics. Cost differences were most reactive to the number of patients in a study, the number of data elements per patient available in a registry, and the speed with which research coordinators could manually abstract data. Registry incorporation resulted in cost savings when as few as 3768 independent data elements were available and when manual data abstraction took as little as 3.4 seconds per data field.
Registries offer important resources for investigators. When available, their broad incorporation may help the scientific community reduce the costs of clinical investigation. We offer here a practical tool for investigators to assess potential costs savings.
The Pediatric Heart Network Normal Echocardiogram Database Study had unanticipated challenges. We sought to describe these challenges and lessons learned to improve the design of future studies.
Challenges were divided into three categories: enrolment, echocardiographic imaging, and protocol violations. Memoranda, Core Lab reports, and adjudication logs were reviewed. A centre-level questionnaire provided information regarding local processes for data collection. Descriptive statistics were used, and chi-square tests determined differences in imaging quality.
For the 19 participating centres, challenges with enrolment included variations in Institutional Review Board definitions of “retrospective” eligibility, overestimation of non-White participants, centre categorisation of Hispanic participants that differed from National Institutes of Health definitions, and exclusion of potential participants due to missing demographic data. Institutional Review Board amendments resolved many of these challenges. There was an unanticipated burden imposed on centres due to high numbers of echocardiograms that were reviewed but failed to meet submission criteria. Additionally, image transfer software malfunctions delayed Core Lab image review and feedback. Between the early and late study periods, the proportion of unacceptable echocardiograms submitted to the Core Lab decreased (14 versus 7%, p < 0.01). Most protocol violations were from eligibility violations and inadvertent protected health information disclosure (overall 2.5%). Adjudication committee reviews led to protocol changes.
Numerous challenges encountered during the Normal Echocardiogram Database Study prolonged study enrolment. The retrospective design and flaws in image transfer software were key impediments to study completion and should be considered when designing future studies collecting echocardiographic images as a primary outcome.
The Single Ventricle Reconstruction Trial randomised neonates with hypoplastic left heart syndrome to a shunt strategy but otherwise retained standard of care. We aimed to describe centre-level practice variation at Fontan completion.
Centre-level data are reported as median or median frequency across all centres and range of medians or frequencies across centres. Classification and regression tree analysis assessed the association of centre-level factors with length of stay and percentage of patients with prolonged pleural effusion (>7 days).
The median Fontan age (14 centres, 320 patients) was 3.1 years (range from 1.7 to 3.9), and the weight-for-age z-score was −0.56 (−1.35 + 0.44). Extra-cardiac Fontans were performed in 79% (4–100%) of patients at the 13 centres performing this procedure; lateral tunnels were performed in 32% (3–100%) at the 11 centres performing it. Deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (nine centres) ranged from 6 to 100%. Major complications occurred in 17% (7–33%). The length of stay was 9.5 days (9–12); 15% (6–33%) had prolonged pleural effusion. Centres with fewer patients (<6%) with prolonged pleural effusion and fewer (<41%) complications had a shorter length of stay (<10 days; sensitivity 1.0; specificity 0.71; area under the curve 0.96). Avoiding deep hypothermic circulatory arrest and higher weight-for-age z-score were associated with a lower percentage of patients with prolonged effusions (<9.5%; sensitivity 1.0; specificity = 0.86; area under the curve 0.98).
Fontan perioperative practices varied widely among study centres. Strategies to decrease the duration of pleural effusion and minimise complications may decrease the length of stay. Further research regarding deep hypothermic circulatory arrest is needed to understand its association with prolonged pleural effusion.
Using existing data from clinical registries to support clinical trials and other prospective studies has the potential to improve research efficiency. However, little has been reported about staff experiences and lessons learned from implementation of this method in pediatric cardiology.
We describe the process of using existing registry data in the Pediatric Heart Network Residual Lesion Score Study, report stakeholders’ perspectives, and provide recommendations to guide future studies using this methodology.
The Residual Lesion Score Study, a 17-site prospective, observational study, piloted the use of existing local surgical registry data (collected for submission to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons-Congenital Heart Surgery Database) to supplement manual data collection. A survey regarding processes and perceptions was administered to study site and data coordinating center staff.
Survey response rate was 98% (54/55). Overall, 57% perceived that using registry data saved research staff time in the current study, and 74% perceived that it would save time in future studies; 55% noted significant upfront time in developing a methodology for extracting registry data. Survey recommendations included simplifying data extraction processes and tailoring to the needs of the study, understanding registry characteristics to maximise data quality and security, and involving all stakeholders in design and implementation processes.
Use of existing registry data was perceived to save time and promote efficiency. Consideration must be given to the upfront investment of time and resources needed. Ongoing efforts focussed on automating and centralising data management may aid in further optimising this methodology for future studies.
Children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome are at a risk for neurodevelopmental delays. Current guidelines recommend systematic evaluation and management of neurodevelopmental outcomes with referral for early intervention services. The Single Ventricle Reconstruction Trial represents the largest cohort of children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome ever assembled. Data on life events and resource utilisation have been collected annually. We sought to determine the type and prevalence of early intervention services used from age 1 to 4 years and factors associated with utilisation of services.
Data from 14-month neurodevelopmental assessment and annual medical history forms were used. We assessed the impact of social risk and geographic differences. Fisher exact tests and logistic regression were used to evaluate associations.
Annual medical history forms were available for 302 of 314 children. Greater than half of the children (52–69%) were not receiving services at any age assessed, whereas 20–32% were receiving two or more therapies each year. Utilisation was significantly lower in year 4 (31%) compared with years 1–3 (with a range from 40 to 48%) (p<0.001). Social risk factors were not associated with the use of services at any age but there were significant geographic differences. Significant delay was reported by parents in 18–43% of children at ages 3 and 4.
Despite significant neurodevelopmental delays, early intervention service utilisation was low in this cohort. As survival has improved for children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, attention must shift to strategies to optimise developmental outcomes, including enrolment in early intervention when merited.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of a passive range of motion exercise programme for infants with CHD.
This non-randomised pilot study enrolled 20 neonates following Stage I palliation for single-ventricle physiology. Trained physical therapists administered standardised 15–20-minute passive range of motion protocol, for up to 21 days or until hospital discharge. Safety assessments included vital signs measured before, during, and after the exercise as well as adverse events recorded through the pre-Stage II follow-up. Feasibility was determined by the percent of days that >75% of the passive range of motion protocol was completed.
A total of 20 infants were enrolled (70% males) for the present study. The median age at enrolment was 8 days (with a range from 5 to 23), with a median start of intervention at postoperative day 4 (with a range from 2 to 12). The median hospital length of stay following surgery was 15 days (with a range from 9 to 131), with an average of 13.4 (with a range from 3 to 21) in-hospital days per patient. Completion of >75% of the protocol was achieved on 88% of eligible days. Of 11 adverse events reported in six patients, 10 were expected with one determined to be possibly related to the study intervention. There were no clinically significant changes in vital signs. At pre-Stage II follow-up, weight-for-age z-score (−0.84±1.20) and length-for-age z-score (−0.83±1.31) were higher compared with historical controls from two earlier trials.
A passive range of motion exercise programme is safe and feasible in infants with single-ventricle physiology. Larger studies are needed to determine the optimal duration of passive range of motion and its effect on somatic growth.
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