Utilizing the Evidence to Develop a Framework for a Clinical Research Network

Tuesday, 14 July 2009: 2:05 PM

Andrew Storer, DNP, CRNP
Jefferson School of Nursing, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA

Learning Objective 1: describe the advantages and disadvantages of conducting clinical research through a clinical research network.

Learning Objective 2: discuss the best practices utilized by the author to develop a framework for a clinical research network.

Background: Evidence demonstrates that clinical research networks (CRN) are a more effective method of conducting clinical research versus stand-alone sites. CRNs have increased patient recruitment, decreased  overhead, and allow for a coordinated research effort decreasing duplication. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding agencies are beginning to promote and fund CRNs as a priority over traditional single site research. To date there is little evidence describing the benefits of CRN.
Objectives: To  analyze the evidence on existing clinical research networks and develop a framework for a neurological emergencies research network.
Methods: The author conducted a systematic evidentiary literature review to develop a foundational framework and evaluation plan for the network.
Results: There is minimal research on “best practices” of CRN. One NIH-funded  study described 11 best practices in successful CRN. Successful CRN were found to be based on trust, democratic process, open membership, utilized contract research organizations that had high information technology capabilities, devoted sufficient resources to education and training, created win/win scenarios, and adopted a business model for network refinement.
The literature and descriptive examples evaluated by the author highlight components and characteristics of CRN in terms of research conducted, funding sources, organizational structure, and outcome measurements. There is a gap in the quality of research available to compare the contextual factors of CRN versus single site clinical research in terms of funding, organizational structure, and diversity of research.
Conclusions: The author developed a CRN framework utilizing NIH developed best practices. Since inception of the framework the network has grown from five sites to seven sites. There is a strong need for research comparing the utilization of stand alone clinical research versus CRN. Future research must address the efficiency and productivity of CRN versus stand alone sites.