Department of veterans affairs cooperative studies program network of dedicated enrollment sites: Implications for surgical trials

Faisal G. Bakaeen, Domenic J. Reda, Annetine C. Gelijns, Lorraine Cornwell, Shuab Omer, Rayan Al Jurdi, Panos Kougias, Daniel Anaya, David H. Berger, Grant D. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE: Surgical clinical trials have played a critical role in shaping clinical practice, yet their launch and conduct remain challenging. Innovative approaches to carrying out such studies can not only help transform how trials produce definitive evidence but also move the field toward increased participation in trials. OBJECTIVE: To review a recently launched pilot program aimed at enhancing patient enrollment and improving surgical trial operations at individual sites and nationally. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: After a solicitation to create a national network focused on making the conduct of clinical trials more efficient, 10 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sites were selected. These sites, collectively called the Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES), were evaluated with regard to their previous participation in CSP multisite trials, the strength of the local clinical research environment, and presentation of innovative plans to coordinate and enhance the operations of local CSP studies and share best practices with other centers. Node accountability was also emphasized and involved metrics that tracked productivity and efficiency. RESULTS: Building from available CSP experience in a range of clinical trials, including ones involving surgical interventions, NODES provides VA surgeons with resources for facilitating timely study initiation, determining patient availability, and addressing enrollment barriers. Such resources are particularly important for surgical studies, which often face challenges in patient recruitment and retention. In addition, NODES can maintain qualified and trained personnel at sites to support surgeons with limited time to fulfill the numerous administrative and regulatory responsibilities that often fall to the investigators. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The VA's approach to enhancing trial efficiency may reinvigorate interest in surgical trials by offering a redesigned cooperative framework that builds on a core of high-yield sites and could mitigate traditional limitations of surgical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


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