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Conquering CHD, formerly known as the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association (PCHA), is the leading congenital heart disease (CHD) patient advocacy organisation in the United States of America, and places high priority on patient engagement in the research process. Participatory design is an approach to problem-solving that utilises the knowledge and opinions of groups of people to generate plans and new ideas. Utilising this mode of patient engagement, patients and families engaged with Conquering CHD assisted in developing a list of research priorities which was then distributed to the larger membership with instructions to rank the priorities in order of importance. Upon completion, these items were compared to the current scientific literature to assess correlation with current publications. This cross-sectional study and literature review aimed to assess the priorities of patients and families in CHD research and to determine the reflection of these areas in the current body of scientific literature.
This cross-sectional study utilised a survey asking participants to rank the importance of research items within categories including “Technology Advances,” “Genetic and Cellular Research,” “Broad Understanding of CHD,” and “Psychosocial Outcomes” which was distributed through social media and email to 43,168 accounts across all platforms. Respondents were asked to place each item in a ranked order in each category, with the value “1” representing the most preferred for each participant. Anyone engaged with Conquering CHD was eligible to complete the study, including patients and families. Subsequently, a literature review of the largest medical databases including PubMed, Scopus, and ScienceDirect was undertaken to determine the number of articles published per each topic which was then assessed to determine if there is a correlation between patient-ranked priorities and the current body of literature.
The study generated a total response of 527 participants. Regarding “Technology Advances,” valve replacement was the preferred topic (mean rank 2.07, IQR 2). Stem cell research was the favoured topic in “Genetic and Cellular Research” (mean rank 2.53, IQR 2). Access to care was the priority in the “Broadening Understanding of CHD” (mean rank 1.24, IQR 1). Pertaining to “Psychosocial Outcomes”, psychological/emotional effects was the highest ranked topic (mean rank 1.46, IQR 1). The literature review returned a total of 135,672 articles in the areas of interest. For “Valve Replacement”, 8361 articles resulted reflecting a proportion of 0.097 of total articles. For “Stem Cell Research”, 9921 articles resulted reflecting a proportion of 0.115 of total articles. For “Access to Care”, 7845 articles resulted reflecting a proportion of 0.091 of total articles. For “Psychological/Emotional Effects”, 6422 articles resulted reflecting a proportion of 0.074 of total articles. A Spearman’s correlation demonstrated no correlation between the preferred domain of CHD research and the number of articles published for that domain (rs = 0.02, p = 0.94).
This process demonstrates the effectiveness of participatory design, using a patient and family network to determine the research items of concern to those affected by CHD. The cross-sectional survey was effective in assessing patient and family priorities but was limited by access to reliable internet and delivery only in English. Though the study had a large response rate, it was limited to patients already engaged with Conquering CHD. For these reasons, it may not completely reflect the opinions of the total population affected by CHD. However, this offers valuable insight into patient-determined priorities and reveals that the current scientific literature does not correlate with these items. These data serve to inform individual and institutional research agendas to better reflect the needs and desires of this population.
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