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HDRN Canada Pragmatic Trials Training Program focuses on real world data to improve health systems


A new training program, coordinated by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, will help researchers use real world data in trials to generate real world evidence and improve health care services and policy.

The HDRN Canada Pragmatic Trials Training Program will launch this year, with $3.4 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Led by Dr. Amit Garg, Associate Dean of Clinical Research and a world-renowned clinician-scientist with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the program will coach researchers through the complex process of conducting pragmatic clinical trials.

“Clinical trials advance medical care, reduce the costs and burdens of illness on society, and improve health and quality of life for patients with a broad range of health conditions,” said Garg, a professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Schulich Medicine and a nephrologist at London Health Sciences Centre. But barriers to these kinds of trials exist, he continued, “especially when they want to use real world, routinely-collected data as part of them.”

Pragmatic clinical trials are designed to improve practice and policy and unlike most traditional randomized clinical trials, they take place in everyday health care settings, such as community clinics. Embedded within routine health care, pragmatic trials are analyzed using existing real-world data sources and often include patients typically excluded from traditional trials. Pragmatic trials are important because they lead to findings that accurately reflect the impact of simple interventions, which enables health care providers and organizations to gain practical evidence that they can leverage to improve health outcomes.

“Done well, pragmatic trials are faster than traditional trials and can be conducted at a fraction of the cost. Yet few Canadian researchers have the training and experience to conduct them,” explained Garg. “The HDRN Canada Pragmatic Trials Training Program will allow us to mobilize Canada’s tremendous unrealized resources and provide learners with the skills needed to conduct high-quality pragmatic trials, helping a new generation conduct better, faster, cheaper and more efficient clinical trials.”

Kim McGrail, Scientific Director and CEO of HDRN Canada, said the new program will help train researchers to more effectively harness health data. “We are very excited to offer this training program through HDRN Canada under Dr. Garg’s leadership,” she said. “The use of real world, routinely-collected data for trials has the potential to provide timely and important evidence for health care system improvement.” Dr. McGrail added that the program’s focus on principles of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility will help ensure that pragmatic trials reflect – and therefore benefit – all people in Canada.

Applications are now open for the HDRN Canada Pragmatic Trials Training Program. Apply by Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, at 5 p.m. EST.

To learn more about the training and clinical trial supports that can be provided through the HDRN Canada Pragmatic Trials Training Program, sign up for our newsletter and get the latest updates.

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