COVID and children's surgery
Childhood cancers are the second leading cause of non-communicable disease deaths for paediatric patients around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted on global children’s cancer services, which can have consequences for childhood cancer outcomes. The Global Health Research Group on Children’s Non-Communicable Diseases (Global Children’s NCDs) is currently undertaking the first international study to determine the variation in paediatric cancer management during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the short to medium term impacts on childhood cancer outcomes globally.
A STUDY TO INVESTIGATE THE IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON PAEDIATRIC CANCER PATIENTS: AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICENTRE, OBSERVATIONAL COHORT STUDY
This is a multicentre, international, mixed (retrospective and prospective) cohort study that used routinely collected hospital data in a de-identified and anonymised form. Patients were recruited consecutively into the study, with a 12 -month follow-up period. This was be followed by the data validation process. Participating hospitals prospectively screened all patients for eligibility to ensure that all patients fulfilling eligibility criteria were captured.
The Global Children’s NCDs Collaborative consists of representations from the College of Surgeons of Southern, East and Central Africa (COSECSA), the Global Children’s Initiative for Surgery (GICS), the Pan-African Paediatric Surgical Association (PAPSA), the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP), and the International Society of Paediatric Surgical Oncology (IPSO). These are all established global clinical and research groups that are renowned in their field with an extensive network of paediatric surgeons and oncologists globally. Furthermore, this study is also in collaboration with the Surgical Interventions Trial Unit (SITU) at the University of Oxford. Local collaborating investigators are required to establish mini teams locally, gain study approval, use the protocol criteria to appropriately identify patients for study inclusion, collect data and upload it to the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) web application.
RESEARCH CAPACITY BUILDING
Participation in the study will provide collaborators with experience of undertaking research including gaining local study approval, using a protocol to identify patients and collect data, use of the REDCap data collection tool, the process of data validation and an example of data analysis, interpretation and write up. An online training session on how to set up a project using REDCap will be offered to all collaborators who are interested in undertaking their own study using this software. Through this process, we hope to support the enhancement of research capacity amongst the collaborating team, which in turn aims to encourage further research into childhood non-communicable diseases globally.
In addition to the above, collaborators will have the opportunity to undertake an optional Research Training Fellowship that is running alongside the main study. During this fellowship, the aim will be for collaborators to develop and undertake their own local research project. Monthly research webinars will be provided covering the following topics:
- Generation of a research question and hypothesis
- Types of study design
- Protocol writing
- Ethical considerations and study approval
- Data collection
- Data cleaning and analysis
- Data interpretation
- Preparing an abstract for submission to a conference for presentation
- Writing a manuscript
- Choosing a journal and submitting for publication
In total, there are 10 online sessions over 12 months that started in January 2021. Each session will last between one to two hours. Each stage of the development and undertaking of the main study will be used as a working example during the sessions. Webinars will be undertaken in English, but a summary of each session will be provided in multiple languages as required. In conjunction with the webinars, a mentoring scheme will be established where collaborators are partnered with an academic to provide one-on-one advice and support throughout the development, undertaking and write up of their study. The aim will be for each participant to produce their own abstract for submission to a conference for publication. Mentors will also support participants to write-up their results for publication. All participants will receive a certificate to confirm completion of the research training fellowship.