Pandemic caused ‘rapid shift’ in sharing of medical research
Throughout the pandemic, clinicians and scientific publications have adapted a number of methods for quickly disseminating COVID-19 research — particularly online.
In accordance with social distancing measures, major data-sharing conferences like IDWeek, the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections and the AAP National Conference & Exhibition, were held virtually.
Keeping up with the large volume of published COVID-19 research can be a challenge, said Infectious Disease News Chief Medical Editor Paul A. Volberding, MD, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
“There is a lot of research going on, particularly for clinical trials,” Volberding told Healio. “There are now these large platform files that are cranking out data on a wide variety of drugs and in different stages of disease. It seems like every time you turn around, there's a new trial that's being reported.”
Experts voiced concern about the rapid publishing of COVID-19 research early in the pandemic. Volberding said “cautious peer review” of data is important, and researchers should be careful not to exaggerate their findings in a finished paper.
“We want information out quickly, but it doesn't have to get out immediately,” he said. “There are a few exceptions to that, like when there's an important side effect.”
A recent analysis published in Clinical Infectious Diseases detailed how interactive webinars can be used to disseminate knowledge.
“The results of this manuscript highlight how an interactive, large-scale webinar series reached a broad audience of colleagues across the globe to rapidly share COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance and information,” Kathryn Wilson, MPH, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, told Healio.
“Virtual knowledge networks, such as the one created here in collaboration with Project ECHO” — the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes — “are an important resource for rapidly disseminating clinical guidance and implementation experiences and can be promoted to increase knowledge equity among colleagues,” Wilson said.
Wilson and colleagues adapted the ECHO model to establish a “global knowledge network” and hosted 13 webinar sessions for infection prevention and control experts. The virtual sessions, which were held between May 14 and Aug. 6, 2020, hosted participants from an average of more than 100 countries.
Wilson said that the pandemic caused a “rapid shift” in how medical information is shared, and that translations between spoken and written languages for virtual platforms like ECHO are an “area for improvement” in the future.
“The opportunity to hear examples of implementing guidance from across the globe and interact with subject matter experts to get rapid answers to infection prevention and control questions was extremely valuable,” Wilson said. “We think virtual knowledge networks and communities of practice have an important role to play post-pandemic and should continue to be developed and promoted.”