For Health Care Providers

Doctor holding stethoscope to toddler boy's (18-21 months) chestCurrently, guidelines for treating children are often based on data from adult studies. Child health research is the best way to advance medical care for children to better diagnose, treat, and prevent the diseases that affect them. We need children of different ages, genders, races, and neighborhoods to participate in studies so clinicians will know which treatments work best for which groups of children.

The Importance of Conducting Research in Your Pediatric Practice

When physicians provide a research home (PDF) in their practice, they keep current on the newest research findings and treatment recommendations. Ideally, a child’s research home is part of his or her medical home. Pediatricians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners can select and offer research opportunities to families that are safe and important to the care of their patients.

Here are some key considerations:

Getting Started

There are various ways to learn about study opportunities in your area. Make inquiries at your nearby universities, children’s hospitals or practiced-based research networks (PBRNs). The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides a registry of more than 170 PBRNs throughout the United States.

Some long-term health condition-related support groups may also have information about relevant research activities on their websites. Examples include Autism Intervention Research on Behavioral Health, National Down Syndrome Society and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Other sites where clinical study opportunities can be investigated include the Pediatric Trials Network, sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and another is, a National Institutes of Health website.

If you are considering possibilities, talk with your colleagues and staff about their interest in particular research questions or projects. Be sure to review and discuss study implementation details with the investigator beforehand. Be clear about the who, what, why, when, and how before starting. When you join a PBRN, you may receive a welcome packet with information about getting a project started, such as this welcome packet (PDF) from Peditatric PittNet, a regional PBRN from Western Pennsylvania associated with University of Pittsburgh.

Pediatric PittNet’s Practice Site Study Match Checklist (PDF) can be a useful guide to assess whether your practice and the research study are a good fit.

When embarking on a research initiative, be sure to establish ground rules and processes for regular communication between investigators and pediatricians, study staff and practice staff, and study staff and families. For example, when and how will you know that a patient of yours was contacted by the study staff, or completed a lab test that was scheduled by the study staff? How will you be able to reach the investigator about a participating patient concern, day or night? Explicitly agree to adjust communication patterns if and when needed, for those things that arise and were not anticipated.

Once you have joined a study, you will be asked to inform patients and families about the research study and invite them to participate. The study staff should provide you with talking points for your office and/or smartphone, and materials to post or provide to families. Materials similar to the examples below may be helpful to you. Examples of the type of material you may receive are included below: