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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a devastating rare disease that affects individuals regardless of ethnicity, gender, and age. The first-approved disease-modifying therapy for SMA, nusinursen, was approved by Health Canada, as well as by American and European regulatory agencies following positive clinical trial outcomes. The trials were conducted in a narrow pediatric population defined by age, severity, and genotype. Broad approval of therapy necessitates close follow-up of potential rare adverse events and effectiveness in the larger real-world population.
The Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry (CNDR) undertook an iterative multi-stakeholder process to expand the existing SMA dataset to capture items relevant to patient outcomes in a post-marketing environment. The CNDR SMA expanded registry is a longitudinal, prospective, observational study of patients with SMA in Canada designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of novel therapies and provide practical information unattainable in trials.
The consensus expanded dataset includes items that address therapy effectiveness and safety and is collected in a multicenter, prospective, observational study, including SMA patients regardless of therapeutic status. The expanded dataset is aligned with global datasets to facilitate collaboration. Additionally, consensus dataset development aimed to standardize appropriate outcome measures across the network and broader Canadian community. Prospective outcome studies, data use, and analyses are independent of the funding partner.
Prospective outcome data collected will provide results on safety and effectiveness in a post-therapy approval era. These data are essential to inform improvements in care and access to therapy for all SMA patients.
The updated common rule, for human subjects research, requires that consents “begin with a ‘concise and focused’ presentation of the key information that will most likely help someone make a decision about whether to participate in a study” (Menikoff, Kaneshiro, Pritchard. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2017; 376(7): 613–615.). We utilized a community-engaged technology development approach to inform feature options within the REDCap software platform centered around collection and storage of electronic consent (eConsent) to address issues of transparency, clinical trial efficiency, and regulatory compliance for informed consent (Harris, et al. Journal of Biomedical Informatics 2009; 42(2): 377–381.). eConsent may also improve recruitment and retention in clinical research studies by addressing: (1) barriers for accessing rural populations by facilitating remote consent and (2) cultural and literacy barriers by including optional explanatory material (e.g., defining terms by hovering over them with the cursor) or the choice of displaying different videos/images based on participant’s race, ethnicity, or educational level (Phillippi, et al. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing. 2018; 47(4): 529–534.).
We developed and pilot tested our eConsent framework to provide a personalized consent experience whereby users are guided through a consent document that utilizes avatars, contextual glossary information supplements, and videos, to facilitate communication of information.
The eConsent framework includes a portfolio of eight features, reviewed by community stakeholders, and tested at two academic medical centers.
Early adoption and utilization of this eConsent framework have demonstrated acceptability. Next steps will emphasize testing efficacy of features to improve participant engagement with the consent process.