The University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS) was founded in 2006 to enhance clinical and translational research across the five University of Massachusetts campuses and our clinical partners, UMass Memorial Health Care and Baystate Medical Center. The UMCCTS is part of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Grant # UL1-TR001453) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This collection showcases publications that are the result of UMCCTS supported research.


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Recently Published

  • POINT-OF-CARE TECHNOLOGY CLINICIAN-FACING SURVEY Dataset for Sampling of Healthcare Professionals’ Perspective on Point-of-Care Technologies from 2019-2021: a survey of benefits, concerns, and development

    Orwig, Taylor; Sutaria, Shiv; Wang, Ziyue; Howard-Wilson, Sakeina; Dunlap, Denise; Lilly, Craig M.; Buchholz, Bryan; McManus, David D.; Hafer, Nathaniel (2023-11-27)
    Point-of-care technology (POCT) plays a vital role in modern healthcare by providing a fast diagnosis, improving patient management, and extending healthcare access to remote and resource-limited areas. The objective of this study was to understand how healthcare professionals in the United States perceived POCTs during 2019-2021 to assess the decision-making process of implementing these newer technologies into everyday practice.
  • Prevalence and predictors of shared decision-making in goals-of-care clinician-family meetings for critically ill neurologic patients: a multi-center mixed-methods study

    Fleming, Victoria; Prasad, Abhinav; Ge, Connie; Crawford, Sybil; Meraj, Shazeb; Hough, Catherine L; Lo, Bernard; Carson, Shannon S; Steingrub, Jay; White, Douglas B; et al. (2023-10-21)
    Background: Shared decision-making is a joint process where patients, or their surrogates, and clinicians make health choices based on evidence and preferences. We aimed to determine the extent and predictors of shared decision-making for goals-of-care discussions for critically ill neurological patients, which is crucial for patient-goal-concordant care but currently unknown. Methods: We analyzed 72 audio-recorded routine clinician-family meetings during which goals-of-care were discussed from seven US hospitals. These occurred for 67 patients with 72 surrogates and 29 clinicians; one hospital provided 49/72 (68%) of the recordings. Using a previously validated 10-element shared decision-making instrument, we quantified the extent of shared decision-making in each meeting. We measured clinicians' and surrogates' characteristics and prognostic estimates for the patient's hospital survival and 6-month independent function using post-meeting questionnaires. We calculated clinician-family prognostic discordance, defined as ≥ 20% absolute difference between the clinician's and surrogate's estimates. We applied mixed-effects regression to identify independent associations with greater shared decision-making. Results: The median shared decision-making score was 7 (IQR 5-8). Only 6% of meetings contained all 10 shared decision-making elements. The most common elements were "discussing uncertainty"(89%) and "assessing family understanding"(86%); least frequent elements were "assessing the need for input from others"(36%) and "eliciting the context of the decision"(33%). Clinician-family prognostic discordance was present in 60% for hospital survival and 45% for 6-month independent function. Univariate analyses indicated associations between greater shared decision-making and younger clinician age, fewer years in practice, specialty (medical-surgical critical care > internal medicine > neurocritical care > other > trauma surgery), and higher clinician-family prognostic discordance for hospital survival. After adjustment, only higher clinician-family prognostic discordance for hospital survival remained independently associated with greater shared decision-making (p = 0.029). Conclusion: Fewer than 1 in 10 goals-of-care clinician-family meetings for critically ill neurological patients contained all shared decision-making elements. Our findings highlight gaps in shared decision-making. Interventions promoting shared decision-making for high-stakes decisions in these patients may increase patient-value congruent care; future studies should also examine whether they will affect decision quality and surrogates' health outcomes.
  • Awake intracerebroventricular delivery and safety assessment of oligonucleotides in a large animal model

    Benatti, Hector Ribeiro; Prestigiacomo, Rachel D; Taghian, Toloo; Miller, Rachael; King, Robert; Gounis, Matthew J; Celik, Ugur; Bertrand, Stephanie; Tuominen, Susan; Bierfeldt, Lindsey; et al. (2023-09-26)
    Oligonucleotide therapeutics offer great promise in the treatment of previously untreatable neurodegenerative disorders; however, there are some challenges to overcome in pre-clinical studies. (1) They carry a well-established dose-related acute neurotoxicity at the time of administration. (2) Repeated administration into the cerebrospinal fluid may be required for long-term therapeutic effect. Modifying oligonucleotide formulation has been postulated to prevent acute toxicity, but a sensitive and quantitative way to track seizure activity in pre-clinical studies is lacking. The use of intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) catheters offers a solution for repeated dosing; however, fixation techniques in large animal models are not standardized and are not reliable. Here we describe a novel surgical technique in a sheep model for i.c.v. delivery of neurotherapeutics based on the fixation of the i.c.v. catheter with a 3D-printed anchorage system composed of plastic and ceramic parts, compatible with magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and electroencephalography (EEG). Our technique allowed tracking electrical brain activity in awake animals via EEG and video recording during and for the 24-h period after administration of a novel oligonucleotide in sheep. Its anchoring efficiency was demonstrated for at least 2 months and will be tested for up to a year in ongoing studies.
  • Effectiveness of various COVID-19 vaccine regimens among 10.4 million patients from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative during Pre-Delta to Omicron periods - United States, 11 December 2020 to 30 June 2022

    Fu, Yuanyuan; Wu, Kaipeng; Wang, Zhanwei; Yang, Hua; Chen, Yu; Wu, Lang; Yanagihara, Richard; Hedges, Jerris R; Wang, Hongwei; Deng, Youping (2023-09-22)
    Objective: This study reports the vaccine effectiveness (VE) of COVID-19 vaccine regimens in the United States, based on the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) database. Methods: Data from 10.4 million adults, enrolled in the N3C from 11 December 2020 to 30 June 2022, were analyzed. VE against infection and death outcomes were evaluated across 13 vaccine regimens in recipient cohorts during the Pre-Delta, Delta, and Omicron periods. VE was estimated as (1-odds ratio) × 100% by multivariate logistic regression, using the unvaccinated cohort as reference. Results: Natural immunity showed a highly protective effect (70.33%) against re-infection, but the mortality risk among the unvaccinated population was increased after re-infection; vaccination following infection reduced the risk of re-infection and death. mRNA-1273 full vaccination plus mRNA-1273 booster showed the highest anti-infection effectiveness (47.59%) (95% CI, 46.72-48.45) in the overall cohort. In the type 2 diabetes cohort, VE against infection was highest with BNT162b2 full vaccination plus mRNA-1273 booster (61.19%) (95% CI, 53.73-67.75). VE against death was also highest with BNT162b2 full vaccination plus mRNA-1273 booster (89.56%) (95% CI, 85.75-92.61). During the Pre-Delta period, all vaccination regimens showed an anti-infection effect; during the Delta period, only boosters, mixed vaccines, and Ad26.COV2.S vaccination exhibited an anti-infection effect; during the Omicron period, none of the vaccine regimens demonstrated an anti-infection effect. Irrespective of the variant period, even a single dose of mRNA vaccine offered protection against death, thus demonstrating survival benefit, even in the presence of infection or re-infection. Similar patterns were observed in patients with type 2 diabetes. Conclusions: Although the anti-infection effect declined as SARS-CoV-2 variants evolved, all COVID-19 mRNA vaccines had sustained effectiveness against death. Vaccination was crucial for preventing re-infection and reducing the risk of death following SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Association of neighborhood-level sociodemographic factors with Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) distribution of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests in 5 US communities

    Herbert, Carly; Shi, Qiming; Baek, Jonggyu; Wang, Biqi; Kheterpal, Vik; Nowak, Christopher; Suvarna, Thejas; Singh, Aditi; Hartin, Paul; Durnam, Basyl; et al. (2023-09-22)
    Background: Many interventions for widescale distribution of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 have utilized online, direct-to-consumer (DTC) ordering systems; however, little is known about the sociodemographic characteristics of home-test users. We aimed to characterize the patterns of online orders for rapid antigen tests and determine geospatial and temporal associations with neighborhood characteristics and community incidence of COVID-19, respectively. Methods: This observational study analyzed online, DTC orders for rapid antigen test kits from beneficiaries of the Say Yes! Covid Test program from March to November 2021 in five communities: Louisville, Kentucky; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fulton County, Georgia; O'ahu, Hawaii; and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Michigan. Using spatial autoregressive models, we assessed the geospatial associations of test kit distribution with Census block-level education, income, age, population density, and racial distribution and Census tract-level Social Vulnerability Index. Lag association analyses were used to measure the association between online rapid antigen kit orders and community-level COVID-19 incidence. Results: In total, 164,402 DTC test kits were ordered during the intervention. Distribution of tests at all sites were significantly geospatially clustered at the block-group level (Moran's I: p < 0.001); however, education, income, age, population density, race, and social vulnerability index were inconsistently associated with test orders across sites. In Michigan, Georgia, and Kentucky, there were strong associations between same-day COVID-19 incidence and test kit orders (Michigan: r = 0.89, Georgia: r = 0.85, Kentucky: r = 0.75). The incidence of COVID-19 during the current day and the previous 6-days increased current DTC orders by 9.0 (95% CI = 1.7, 16.3), 3.0 (95% CI = 1.3, 4.6), and 6.8 (95% CI = 3.4, 10.2) in Michigan, Georgia, and Kentucky, respectively. There was no same-day or 6-day lagged correlation between test kit orders and COVID-19 incidence in Indiana. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that online ordering is not associated with geospatial clustering based on sociodemographic characteristics. Observed temporal preferences for DTC ordering can guide public health messaging around DTC testing programs.
  • Who is pregnant? Defining real-world data-based pregnancy episodes in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C)

    Jones, Sara E; Bradwell, Katie R; Chan, Lauren E; McMurry, Julie A; Olson-Chen, Courtney; Tarleton, Jessica; Wilkins, Kenneth J; Ly, Victoria; Ljazouli, Saad; Qin, Qiuyuan; et al. (2023-08-16)
    Objectives: To define pregnancy episodes and estimate gestational age within electronic health record (EHR) data from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C). Materials and methods: We developed a comprehensive approach, named Hierarchy and rule-based pregnancy episode Inference integrated with Pregnancy Progression Signatures (HIPPS), and applied it to EHR data in the N3C (January 1, 2018-April 7, 2022). HIPPS combines: (1) an extension of a previously published pregnancy episode algorithm, (2) a novel algorithm to detect gestational age-specific signatures of a progressing pregnancy for further episode support, and (3) pregnancy start date inference. Clinicians performed validation of HIPPS on a subset of episodes. We then generated pregnancy cohorts based on gestational age precision and pregnancy outcomes for assessment of accuracy and comparison of COVID-19 and other characteristics. Results: We identified 628 165 pregnant persons with 816 471 pregnancy episodes, of which 52.3% were live births, 24.4% were other outcomes (stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, abortions), and 23.3% had unknown outcomes. Clinician validation agreed 98.8% with HIPPS-identified episodes. We were able to estimate start dates within 1 week of precision for 475 433 (58.2%) episodes. 62 540 (7.7%) episodes had incident COVID-19 during pregnancy. Discussion: HIPPS provides measures of support for pregnancy-related variables such as gestational age and pregnancy outcomes based on N3C data. Gestational age precision allows researchers to find time to events with reasonable confidence. Conclusion: We have developed a novel and robust approach for inferring pregnancy episodes and gestational age that addresses data inconsistency and missingness in EHR data.
  • Can psychological interventions prevent or reduce risk for perinatal anxiety disorders? A systematic review and meta-analysis

    Zimmermann, Martha; Julce, Clevanne; Sarkar, Pooja; McNicholas, Eileen; Xu, Lulu; Carr, Catherine W.; Boudreaux, Edwin D; Lemon, Stephenie C; Byatt, Nancy (2023-08-16)
    Objective: Little is known about the extent to which interventions can prevent perinatal anxiety disorders. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine whether interventions can decrease the onset and symptoms of perinatal anxiety among individuals without an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Method: We conducted a comprehensive literature search across five databases related to key concepts: (1) anxiety disorders/anxiety symptom severity (2) perinatal (3) interventions (4) prevention. We included studies that examined a perinatal population without an anxiety disorder diagnosis, included a comparator group, and assessed perinatal anxiety. We included interventions focused on perinatal anxiety as well as interventions to prevent perinatal depression or influence related outcomes (e.g., physical activity). Results: Thirty-six studies were included. No study assessing the incidence of perinatal anxiety disorder (n = 4) found a significant effect of an intervention. Among studies assessing anxiety symptom severity and included in the quantitative analysis (n = 30), a meta-analysis suggested a small standardized mean difference of -0.31 (95% CI [-0.46, -0.16], p < .001) for anxiety at post intervention, favoring the intervention group. Both mindfulness (n = 6), and cognitive behavioral therapy approaches (n = 10) were effective. Conclusions: Interventions developed for perinatal anxiety were more effective than interventions to prevent perinatal depression. Psychological interventions show promise for reducing perinatal anxiety symptom severity, though interventions specifically targeting anxiety are needed.
  • Immunopeptidome profiling of human coronavirus OC43-infected cells identifies CD4 T-cell epitopes specific to seasonal coronaviruses or cross-reactive with SARS-CoV-2

    Becerra-Artiles, Aniuska; Nanaware, Padma P; Muneeruddin, Khaja; Weaver, Grant; Shaffer, Scott A; Calvo-Calle, J Mauricio; Stern, Lawrence J (2023-07-27)
    Seasonal "common-cold" human coronaviruses are widely spread throughout the world and are mainly associated with mild upper respiratory tract infections. The emergence of highly pathogenic coronaviruses MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and most recently SARS-CoV-2 has prompted increased attention to coronavirus biology and immunopathology, but the T-cell response to seasonal coronaviruses remains largely uncharacterized. Here we report the repertoire of viral peptides that are naturally processed and presented upon infection of a model cell line with seasonal coronavirus OC43. We identified MHC-bound peptides derived from each of the viral structural proteins (spike, nucleoprotein, hemagglutinin-esterase, membrane, and envelope) as well as non-structural proteins nsp3, nsp5, nsp6, and nsp12. Eighty MHC-II bound peptides corresponding to 14 distinct OC43-derived epitopes were identified, including many at very high abundance within the overall MHC-II peptidome. Fewer and less abundant MHC-I bound OC43-derived peptides were observed, possibly due to MHC-I downregulation induced by OC43 infection. The MHC-II peptides elicited low-abundance recall T-cell responses in most donors tested. In vitro assays confirmed that the peptides were recognized by CD4+ T cells and identified the presenting HLA alleles. T-cell responses cross-reactive between OC43, SARS-CoV-2, and the other seasonal coronaviruses were confirmed in samples of peripheral blood and peptide-expanded T-cell lines. Among the validated epitopes, spike protein S903-917 presented by DPA1*01:03/DPB1*04:01 and S1085-1099 presented by DRB1*15:01 shared substantial homology to other human coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, and were targeted by cross-reactive CD4 T cells. Nucleoprotein N54-68 and hemagglutinin-esterase HE128-142 presented by DRB1*15:01 and HE259-273 presented by DPA1*01:03/DPB1*04:01 are immunodominant epitopes with low coronavirus homology that are not cross-reactive with SARS-CoV-2. Overall, the set of naturally processed and presented OC43 epitopes comprise both OC43-specific and human coronavirus cross-reactive epitopes, which can be used to follow CD4 T-cell cross-reactivity after infection or vaccination, and to guide selection of epitopes for inclusion in pan-coronavirus vaccines.
  • Abatacept, Cenicriviroc, or Infliximab for Treatment of Adults Hospitalized With COVID-19 Pneumonia: A Randomized Clinical Trial

    O'Halloran, Jane A; Ko, Emily R; Anstrom, Kevin J; Kedar, Eyal; McCarthy, Matthew W; Panettieri, Reynold A; Maillo, Martin; Nunez, Patricia Segura; Lachiewicz, Anne M; Gonzalez, Cynthia; et al. (2023-07-25)
    Importance: Immune dysregulation contributes to poorer outcomes in COVID-19. Objective: To investigate whether abatacept, cenicriviroc, or infliximab provides benefit when added to standard care for COVID-19 pneumonia. Design, setting, and participants: Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial using a master protocol to investigate immunomodulators added to standard care for treatment of participants hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia. The results of 3 substudies are reported from 95 hospitals at 85 clinical research sites in the US and Latin America. Hospitalized patients 18 years or older with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection within 14 days and evidence of pulmonary involvement underwent randomization between October 2020 and December 2021. Interventions: Single infusion of abatacept (10 mg/kg; maximum dose, 1000 mg) or infliximab (5 mg/kg) or a 28-day oral course of cenicriviroc (300-mg loading dose followed by 150 mg twice per day). Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was time to recovery by day 28 evaluated using an 8-point ordinal scale (higher scores indicate better health). Recovery was defined as the first day the participant scored at least 6 on the ordinal scale. Results: Of the 1971 participants randomized across the 3 substudies, the mean (SD) age was 54.8 (14.6) years and 1218 (61.8%) were men. The primary end point of time to recovery from COVID-19 pneumonia was not significantly different for abatacept (recovery rate ratio [RRR], 1.12 [95% CI, 0.98-1.28]; P = .09), cenicriviroc (RRR, 1.01 [95% CI, 0.86-1.18]; P = .94), or infliximab (RRR, 1.12 [95% CI, 0.99-1.28]; P = .08) compared with placebo. All-cause 28-day mortality was 11.0% for abatacept vs 15.1% for placebo (odds ratio [OR], 0.62 [95% CI, 0.41-0.94]), 13.8% for cenicriviroc vs 11.9% for placebo (OR, 1.18 [95% CI 0.72-1.94]), and 10.1% for infliximab vs 14.5% for placebo (OR, 0.59 [95% CI, 0.39-0.90]). Safety outcomes were comparable between active treatment and placebo, including secondary infections, in all 3 substudies. Conclusions and relevance: Time to recovery from COVID-19 pneumonia among hospitalized participants was not significantly different for abatacept, cenicriviroc, or infliximab vs placebo. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04593940.
  • Challenges and solutions to superior chimeric antigen receptor-T design and deployment for B-cell lymphomas

    Gao, Jenny; Dahiya, Saurabh; Patel, Shyam A (2023-07-24)
    Chimeric antigen receptor-T (CAR-T) therapies represent a major breakthrough in cancer medicine, given the ex vivo-based technology that harnesses the power of one's own immune system. These therapeutics have demonstrated remarkable success for relapsed/refractory B-cell lymphomas. Although more than a decade has passed since the initial introduction of CAR-T therapeutics for patients with leukaemia and lymphoma, there is still significant debate as to where CAR-T therapeutics fit into the management paradigm, as consensus guidelines are limited. Competing interventions deployed in subsequent lines of therapy for aggressive lymphoma include novel targeted agents, bispecific antibodies, and time-honoured stem cell transplant. In this focused review, we discuss the major obstacles to advancing the therapeutic reach for CAR-T products in early lines of therapy. Such barriers include antigen escape, "cold" tumour microenvironments, host inflammation and CAR-T cell exhaustion. We highlight solutions including point-of-care CAR-T manufacturing and early T lymphopheresis. We review the evidence basis for early CAR-T deployment for B-cell lymphomas in light of the recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of three first-in-class anti-CD3/CD20 bispecific antibodies-mosunetuzumab, epcoritamab and glofitamab. We propose practical recommendations for 2024.
  • Performance of Rapid Antigen Tests to Detect Symptomatic and Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection : A Prospective Cohort Study

    Soni, Apurv; Herbert, Carly; Lin, Honghuang; Yan, Yi; Pretz, Caitlin; Stamegna, Pamela; Wang, Biqi; Orwig, Taylor; Wright, Colton; Tarrant, Seanan; et al. (2023-07-04)
    Background: The performance of rapid antigen tests (Ag-RDTs) for screening asymptomatic and symptomatic persons for SARS-CoV-2 is not well established. Objective: To evaluate the performance of Ag-RDTs for detection of SARS-CoV-2 among symptomatic and asymptomatic participants. Design: This prospective cohort study enrolled participants between October 2021 and January 2022. Participants completed Ag-RDTs and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for SARS-CoV-2 every 48 hours for 15 days. Setting: Participants were enrolled digitally throughout the mainland United States. They self-collected anterior nasal swabs for Ag-RDTs and RT-PCR testing. Nasal swabs for RT-PCR were shipped to a central laboratory, whereas Ag-RDTs were done at home. Participants: Of 7361 participants in the study, 5353 who were asymptomatic and negative for SARS-CoV-2 on study day 1 were eligible. In total, 154 participants had at least 1 positive RT-PCR result. Measurements: The sensitivity of Ag-RDTs was measured on the basis of testing once (same-day), twice (after 48 hours), and thrice (after a total of 96 hours). The analysis was repeated for different days past index PCR positivity (DPIPPs) to approximate real-world scenarios where testing initiation may not always coincide with DPIPP 0. Results were stratified by symptom status. Results: Among 154 participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, 97 were asymptomatic and 57 had symptoms at infection onset. Serial testing with Ag-RDTs twice 48 hours apart resulted in an aggregated sensitivity of 93.4% (95% CI, 90.4% to 95.9%) among symptomatic participants on DPIPPs 0 to 6. When singleton positive results were excluded, the aggregated sensitivity on DPIPPs 0 to 6 for 2-time serial testing among asymptomatic participants was lower at 62.7% (CI, 57.0% to 70.5%), but it improved to 79.0% (CI, 70.1% to 87.4%) with testing 3 times at 48-hour intervals. Limitation: Participants tested every 48 hours; therefore, these data cannot support conclusions about serial testing intervals shorter than 48 hours. Conclusion: The performance of Ag-RDTs was optimized when asymptomatic participants tested 3 times at 48-hour intervals and when symptomatic participants tested 2 times separated by 48 hours. Primary funding source: National Institutes of Health RADx Tech program.
  • Antisense oligonucleotide rescue of CGG expansion-dependent mis-splicing in fragile X syndrome restores FMRP

    Shah, Sneha; Sharp, Kevin J; Raju Ponny, Sithara; Lee, Jonathan; Watts, Jonathan K; Berry-Kravis, Elizabeth; Richter, Joel D (2023-06-26)
    Aberrant alternative splicing of mRNAs results in dysregulated gene expression in multiple neurological disorders. Here, we show that hundreds of mRNAs are incorrectly expressed and spliced in white blood cells and brain tissues of individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS). Surprisingly, the FMR1 (Fragile X Messenger Ribonucleoprotein 1) gene is transcribed in >70% of the FXS tissues. In all FMR1-expressing FXS tissues, FMR1 RNA itself is mis-spliced in a CGG expansion-dependent manner to generate the little-known FMR1-217 RNA isoform, which is comprised of FMR1 exon 1 and a pseudo-exon in intron 1. FMR1-217 is also expressed in FXS premutation carrier-derived skin fibroblasts and brain tissues. We show that in cells aberrantly expressing mis-spliced FMR1, antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) treatment reduces FMR1-217, rescues full-length FMR1 RNA, and restores FMRP (Fragile X Messenger RibonucleoProtein) to normal levels. Notably, FMR1 gene reactivation in transcriptionally silent FXS cells using 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AzadC), which prevents DNA methylation, increases FMR1-217 RNA levels but not FMRP. ASO treatment of cells prior to 5-AzadC application rescues full-length FMR1 expression and restores FMRP. These findings indicate that misregulated RNA-processing events in blood could serve as potent biomarkers for FXS and that in those individuals expressing FMR1-217, ASO treatment may offer a therapeutic approach to mitigate the disorder.
  • Empowering Youth Vaccine Ambassadors to Promote COVID-19 Vaccination in Local Communities: A 7-Step Approach

    Minkah, Princilla; Borg, Amy; Ryan, Grace W; Goulding, Melissa; Perrone, Domenica; Castiel, Matilde; Rosal, Milagros C; Lemon, Stephenie C (2023-06-11)
    Despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for youth since 2021, vaccine hesitancy has resulted in suboptimal uptake. Public health campaigns that empower local youth ambassadors as trusted messengers who share their personal narratives related to getting vaccinated hold promise for promoting COVID-19 vaccination. We used a seven-step approach to develop, implement, and evaluate a youth-led ambassador campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccine uptake in communities experiencing COVID-19 disparities in Worcester, MA. The seven steps included (1) engaging with key partners; (2) determining a community of focus; (3) identifying trusted sources; (4) determining campaign components; (5) training the vaccine ambassadors; (6) disseminating the campaign; and (7) evaluating the campaign. We trained nine youth as vaccine ambassadors. Ambassadors were guided through self-reflection of motivations for COVID-19 vaccination and the resulting personal narratives became the campaign messaging. English/Spanish vaccine messages developed by youth ambassadors were disseminated through social media platforms (n = 3), radio (n = 2), local TV (n = 2), flyers (n = 2,086), posters (n = 386), billboards (n = 10), and local bus ads (n = 40). Qualitative youth feedback indicate participation in the campaign was a positive and empowering experience which reinforces the importance of engaging youth in public health messaging. Youth empowerment through personal narratives (and storytelling) holds promise for future public health campaigns.
  • Prognostic Language in Critical Neurologic Illness: A Multicenter Mixed-Methods Study

    Goss, Adeline; Ge, Connie; Crawford, Sybil; Goostrey, Kelsey; Buddadhumaruk, Praewpannanrai; Hough, Catherine L; Lo, Bernard; Carson, Shannon; Steingrub, Jay; White, Douglas B; et al. (2023-06-08)
    Background and objectives: There are no evidence-based guidelines for discussing prognosis in critical neurologic illness, but in general, experts recommend that clinicians communicate prognosis using estimates, such as numerical or qualitative expressions of risk. Little is known about how real-world clinicians communicate prognosis in critical neurologic illness. Our primary objective was to characterize prognostic language clinicians used in critical neurologic illness. We additionally explored whether prognostic language differed between prognostic domains (e.g., survival, cognition). Methods: We conducted a multicenter cross-sectional mixed-methods study analyzing deidentified transcripts of audio-recorded clinician-family meetings for patients with neurologic illness requiring intensive care (e.g., intracerebral hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, severe stroke) from 7 US centers. Two coders assigned codes for prognostic language type and domain of prognosis to each clinician prognostic statement. Prognostic language was coded as probabilistic (estimating the likelihood of an outcome occurring, e.g., "80% survival"; "She'll probably survive") or nonprobabilistic (characterizing outcomes without offering likelihood; e.g., "She may not survive"). We applied univariate and multivariate binomial logistic regression to examine independent associations between prognostic language and domain of prognosis. Results: We analyzed 43 clinician-family meetings for 39 patients with 78 surrogates and 27 clinicians. Clinicians made 512 statements about survival (median 0/meeting [interquartile range (IQR) 0-2]), physical function (median 2 [IQR 0-7]), cognition (median 2 [IQR 0-6]), and overall recovery (median 2 [IQR 1-4]). Most statements were nonprobabilistic (316/512 [62%]); 10 of 512 prognostic statements (2%) offered numeric estimates; and 21% (9/43) of family meetings only contained nonprobabilistic language. Compared with statements about cognition, statements about survival (odds ratio [OR] 2.50, 95% CI 1.01-6.18, p = 0.048) and physical function (OR 3.22, 95% 1.77-5.86, p < 0.001) were more frequently probabilistic. Statements about physical function were less likely to be uncertainty-based than statements about cognition (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.17-0.66, p = 0.002). Discussion: Clinicians preferred not to use estimates (either numeric or qualitative) when discussing critical neurologic illness prognosis, especially when they discussed cognitive outcomes. These findings may inform interventions to improve prognostic communication in critical neurologic illness.
  • From COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy to Vaccine Acceptance: Results of a Longitudinal Survey

    Fisher, Kimberly A; Nguyen, Ngoc; Fouayzi, Hassan; Crawford, Sybil; Singh, Sonal; Dong, May; Wittenberg, Ruth; Mazor, Kathleen M (2023-05-27)
    Objectives: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, but uptake is suboptimal. To develop strategies to increase vaccination rates, we sought to (1) characterize adults initially hesitant to be vaccinated for COVID-19 who later received the vaccine and (2) identify factors associated with their vaccination decision. Methods: In January 2021, we conducted an online survey of US adults via Prolific that assessed vaccination intent, COVID-19-related knowledge and attitudes, and demographic characteristics. In May 2021, we recontacted respondents to assess vaccination status and factors influencing their vaccination decision. We used χ2 statistics and t tests to examine associations between respondents' vaccination status and their characteristics, knowledge, and attitudes. We analyzed reasons for vaccination using thematic analysis. Results: Of 756 initially vaccine-hesitant respondents, 529 (70.0%) completed the follow-up survey. Nearly half of those initially not sure about vaccination (47.3%, 112 of 237) were vaccinated at follow-up, while 21.2% (62 of 292) of those initially planning not to be vaccinated were vaccinated at follow-up. Of those initially not sure, higher educational attainment, greater knowledge of COVID-19, and a doctor's recommendation were associated with vaccination. Of those initially intending not to be vaccinated, male sex, Democratic political affiliation, receipt of an influenza shot within 5 years, being more worried about COVID-19, and having greater COVID-19 knowledge were associated with increased likelihood of being vaccinated. Of 167 respondents who gave reasons for vaccination, protecting oneself and others (59.9%), practical issues (29.9%), social influences (17.4%), and vaccine safety (13.8%) were the main reasons. Conclusion: Providing information on the protective value of vaccination, implementing rules that make remaining unvaccinated burdensome, making vaccination easy, and providing social support may influence vaccine-hesitant adults to accept vaccination.
  • Preexisting Autoimmunity Is Associated With Increased Severity of Coronavirus Disease 2019: A Retrospective Cohort Study Using Data From the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C)

    Yadaw, Arjun S; Sahner, David K; Sidky, Hythem; Afzali, Behdad; Hotaling, Nathan; Pfaff, Emily R; Mathé, Ewy A (2023-05-19)
    Background: Identifying individuals with a higher risk of developing severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outcomes will inform targeted and more intensive clinical monitoring and management. To date, there is mixed evidence regarding the impact of preexisting autoimmune disease (AID) diagnosis and/or immunosuppressant (IS) exposure on developing severe COVID-19 outcomes. Methods: A retrospective cohort of adults diagnosed with COVID-19 was created in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative enclave. Two outcomes, life-threatening disease and hospitalization, were evaluated by using logistic regression models with and without adjustment for demographics and comorbidities. Results: Of the 2 453 799 adults diagnosed with COVID-19, 191 520 (7.81%) had a preexisting AID diagnosis and 278 095 (11.33%) had a preexisting IS exposure. Logistic regression models adjusted for demographics and comorbidities demonstrated that individuals with a preexisting AID (odds ratio [OR], 1.13; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.09-1.17; P < .001), IS exposure (OR, 1.27; 95% CI: 1.24-1.30; P < .001), or both (OR, 1.35; 95% CI: 1.29-1.40; P < .001) were more likely to have a life-threatening disease. These results were consistent when hospitalization was evaluated. A sensitivity analysis evaluating specific IS revealed that tumor necrosis factor inhibitors were protective against life-threatening disease (OR, 0.80; 95% CI: .66-.96; P = .017) and hospitalization (OR, 0.80; 95% CI: .73-.89; P < .001). Conclusions: Patients with preexisting AID, IS exposure, or both are more likely to have a life-threatening disease or hospitalization. These patients may thus require tailored monitoring and preventative measures to minimize negative consequences of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 and the Cardiovascular System: Requiem for a Medical Minotaur

    Koupenova, Milka; Chung, Mina K; Bristow, Michael R (2023-05-11)
    The world has finally emerged from the great medical, economic, and social calamity of 2020 to 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic. This Compendium of 10 articles describes various aspects of the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the cardiovascular system, focusing on the heart. The Minotaur from Greek mythology is an apt metaphor, because this half bull/half man spike-adorned gain of function mutant slaughtered the innocent was nearly impossible to eradicate in his labyrinthian environs, inspired mass fear of the unknown, and ultimately was eliminated by resourceful, determined collaborators.1 Although SARS-CoV-2 infection has not been eliminated, it has been contained to the point of acquiring the status of a manageable infectious disease.
  • Design and implementation of a digital site-less clinical study of serial rapid antigen testing to identify asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection

    Soni, Apurv; Herbert, Carly; Pretz, Caitlin; Stamegna, Pamela; Filippaios, Andreas; Shi, Qiming; Suvarna, Thejas; Harman, Emma; Schrader, Summer; Nowak, Chris; et al. (2023-05-10)
    Background: Rapid antigen detection tests (Ag-RDT) for SARS-CoV-2 with emergency use authorization generally include a condition of authorization to evaluate the test's performance in asymptomatic individuals when used serially. We aim to describe a novel study design that was used to generate regulatory-quality data to evaluate the serial use of Ag-RDT in detecting SARS-CoV-2 virus among asymptomatic individuals. Methods: This prospective cohort study used a siteless, digital approach to assess longitudinal performance of Ag-RDT. Individuals over 2 years old from across the USA with no reported COVID-19 symptoms in the 14 days prior to study enrollment were eligible to enroll in this study. Participants throughout the mainland USA were enrolled through a digital platform between October 18, 2021 and February 15, 2022. Participants were asked to test using Ag-RDT and molecular comparators every 48 hours for 15 days. Enrollment demographics, geographic distribution, and SARS-CoV-2 infection rates are reported. Key results: A total of 7361 participants enrolled in the study, and 492 participants tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, including 154 who were asymptomatic and tested negative to start the study. This exceeded the initial enrollment goals of 60 positive participants. We enrolled participants from 44 US states, and geographic distribution of participants shifted in accordance with the changing COVID-19 prevalence nationwide. Conclusions: The digital site-less approach employed in the "Test Us At Home" study enabled rapid, efficient, and rigorous evaluation of rapid diagnostics for COVID-19 and can be adapted across research disciplines to optimize study enrollment and accessibility.
  • Clinical encounter heterogeneity and methods for resolving in networked EHR data: a study from N3C and RECOVER programs

    Leese, Peter; Anand, Adit; Girvin, Andrew; Manna, Amin; Patel, Saaya; Yoo, Yun Jae; Wong, Rachel; Haendel, Melissa; Chute, Christopher G; Bennett, Tellen; et al. (2023-04-22)
    Objective: Clinical encounter data are heterogeneous and vary greatly from institution to institution. These problems of variance affect interpretability and usability of clinical encounter data for analysis. These problems are magnified when multisite electronic health record (EHR) data are networked together. This article presents a novel, generalizable method for resolving encounter heterogeneity for analysis by combining related atomic encounters into composite "macrovisits." Materials and methods: Encounters were composed of data from 75 partner sites harmonized to a common data model as part of the NIH Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery Initiative, a project of the National Covid Cohort Collaborative. Summary statistics were computed for overall and site-level data to assess issues and identify modifications. Two algorithms were developed to refine atomic encounters into cleaner, analyzable longitudinal clinical visits. Results: Atomic inpatient encounters data were found to be widely disparate between sites in terms of length-of-stay (LOS) and numbers of OMOP CDM measurements per encounter. After aggregating encounters to macrovisits, LOS and measurement variance decreased. A subsequent algorithm to identify hospitalized macrovisits further reduced data variability. Discussion: Encounters are a complex and heterogeneous component of EHR data and native data issues are not addressed by existing methods. These types of complex and poorly studied issues contribute to the difficulty of deriving value from EHR data, and these types of foundational, large-scale explorations, and developments are necessary to realize the full potential of modern real-world data. Conclusion: This article presents method developments to manipulate and resolve EHR encounter data issues in a generalizable way as a foundation for future research and analysis.
  • Barriers and Facilitators to the Implementation of Adolescent Cancer Prevention Interventions in Rural Primary Care Settings: A Scoping Review

    Ryan, Grace W; Whitmire, Paula; Batten, Annabelle J.; Goulding, Melissa; Baltich Nelson, Becky; Lemon, Stephenie C.; Pbert, Lori (2023-03-13)
    Purpose: We conducted a scoping review of studies to examine the implementation of interventions to promote adolescent cancer prevention in rural, primary care settings and identify barriers and facilitators. Methods: We followed the JBI scoping review protocol and used a systematic extraction and coding process. Our search of MEDLINE, PsycInfo, Cochrane, CINAHL, and Scopus identified articles related to implementation of interventions in the following areas: obesity, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, tobacco use, and sun exposure. We used the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR), an implementation framework consisting of 5 domains (outer setting, inner setting, intervention characteristics, individual characteristics, process), each with a sub-set of constructs, to classify barriers and facilitators reported. Results: We identified 3046 references, excluded 2969 during initial screening, assessed 74 for full-text eligibility, and abstracted 24. Of these, 17 addressed obesity, 6 addressed HPV vaccination, 1 addressed skin cancer, and 1 addressed multiple behaviors. 10 studies were either non-randomized experimental designs (n=8) or randomized controlled trials (n=2). The remaining were observational or descriptive research. Barriers in the outer setting (e.g., lack of external funding sources, patients' beliefs) and inner setting (e.g., time available for implementation efforts and clinic infrastructure) were most common, compared to the other CFIR domains. Similarly, facilitators in the outer setting (e.g., partnerships with other organizations and parents' trust in health care providers) and inner setting (e.g., efficiency in practice protocols) were commonly reported. Conclusions: Adolescence is a critical growth window to establish healthy behaviors to prevent future cancers. Rural areas have higher rates of cancer morbidity and mortality than urban ones, putting rural adolescents at heightened risk for cancers. Yet, we found a dearth of studies addressing the implementation of adolescent cancer prevention in rural primary care settings. Further research is needed to understand the implementation challenges and potential strategies to improve implementation efforts to promote cancer prevention among rural adolescents.

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