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Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pragmatic clinical trial participants.

Coleman BC, Purcell N, Geda M, Luther SL, Peduzzi P, Kerns RD, Seal KH, Burgess DJ, Rosen MI, Sellinger J, Salsbury SA, Gelman H, Brandt CA, Edwards RR. Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pragmatic clinical trial participants. Contemporary clinical trials. 2021 Dec 1; 111:106619.

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Characterizing the impacts of disruption attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical research is important, especially in pain research where psychological, social, and economic stressors attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic may greatly impact treatment effects. The National Institutes of Health - Department of Defense - Department of Veterans Affairs Pain Management Collaboratory (PMC) is a collective effort supporting 11 pragmatic clinical trials studying nonpharmacological approaches and innovative integrated care models for pain management in veteran and military health systems. The PMC rapidly developed a brief pandemic impacts measure for use across its pragmatic trials studying pain while remaining broadly applicable to other areas of clinical research. Through open discussion and consensus building by the PMC''s Phenotypes and Outcomes Work Group, the PMC Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) Measure was iteratively developed. The measure assesses the following domains (one item/domain): access to healthcare, social support, finances, ability to meet basic needs, and mental or emotional health. Two additional items assess infection status (personal and household) and hospitalization. The measure uses structured responses with a three-point scale for COVID-19 infection status and four-point ordinal rank response for all other domains. We recommend individualized adaptation as appropriate by clinical research teams using this measure to survey the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on study participants. This can also help maintain utility of the measure beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to characterize impacts during future public health emergencies that may require mitigation strategies such as periods of quarantine and isolation.

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