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Stroke ; 52(11): 3739-3747, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1443690


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented unique challenges to stroke care and research internationally. In particular, clinical trials in stroke are vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic at multiple stages, including design, recruitment, intervention, follow-up, and interpretation of outcomes. A carefully considered approach is required to ensure the appropriate conduct of stroke trials during the pandemic and to maintain patient and participant safety. This has been recently addressed by the International Council for Harmonisation which, in November 2019, released an addendum to the Statistical Principles for Clinical Trials guidelines entitled Estimands and Sensitivity Analysis in Clinical Trials. In this article, we present the International Council for Harmonisation estimand framework for the design and conduct of clinical trials, with a specific focus on its application to stroke clinical trials. This framework aims to align the clinical and scientific objectives of a trial with its design and end points. It also encourages the prospective consideration of potential postrandomization intercurrent events which may occur during a trial and either impact the ability to measure an end point or its interpretation. We describe the different categories of such events and the proposed strategies for dealing with them, specifically focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic as a source of intercurrent events. We also describe potential practical impacts posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on trials, health systems, study groups, and participants, all of which should be carefully reviewed by investigators to ensure an adequate practical and statistical strategy is in place to protect trial integrity. We provide examples of the implementation of the estimand framework within hypothetical stroke trials in intracerebral hemorrhage and stroke recovery. While the focus of this article is on COVID-19 impacts, the strategies and principles proposed are well suited for other potential events or issues, which may impact clinical trials in the field of stroke.

COVID-19 , Clinical Trials as Topic/methods , Data Interpretation, Statistical , Research Design , Stroke/therapy , Clinical Trials as Topic/standards , Guidelines as Topic , Humans , Implementation Science , SARS-CoV-2
Stroke ; 52(5): e117-e130, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1195876
Front Neurol ; 12: 621495, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1133933


We present information on acute stroke care for the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia using data from the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry (AuSCR). The first case of COVID-19 in Australia was recorded in late January 2020 and national restrictions to control the virus commenced in March. To account for seasonal effects of stroke admissions, patient-level data from the registry from January to June 2020 were compared to the same period in 2019 (historical-control) from 61 public hospitals. We compared periods using descriptive statistics and performed interrupted time series analyses. Perceptions of stroke clinicians were obtained from 53/72 (74%) hospitals participating in the AuSCR (80% nurses) via a voluntary, electronic feedback survey. Survey data were summarized to provide contextual information for the registry-based analysis. Data from the registry covered locations that had 91% of Australian COVID-19 cases to the end of June 2020. For the historical-control period, 9,308 episodes of care were compared with the pandemic period (8,992 episodes). Patient characteristics were similar for each cohort (median age: 75 years; 56% male; ischemic stroke 69%). Treatment in stroke units decreased progressively during the pandemic period (control: 76% pandemic: 70%, p < 0.001). Clinical staff reported fewer resources available for stroke including 10% reporting reduced stroke unit beds. Several time-based metrics were unchanged whereas door-to-needle times were longer during the peak pandemic period (March-April, 2020; 82 min, control: 74 min, p = 0.012). Our data emphasize the need to maintain appropriate acute stroke care during times of national emergency such as pandemic management.