Qualitative analysis of the interdisciplinary interaction between data analysis specialists and novice clinical researchers.


BACKGROUND: The inherent complexity of statistical methods and clinical phenomena compel researchers with diverse domains of expertise to work in interdisciplinary teams, where none of them have a complete knowledge in their counterpart's field. As a result, knowledge exchange may often be characterized by miscommunication leading to misinterpretation, ultimately resulting in errors in research and even clinical practice. Though communication has a central role in interdisciplinary collaboration and since miscommunication can have a negative impact on research processes, to the best of our knowledge, no study has yet explored how data analysis specialists and clinical researchers communicate over time. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted qualitative analysis of encounters between clinical researchers and data analysis specialists (epidemiologist, clinical epidemiologist, and data mining specialist). These encounters were recorded and systematically analyzed using a grounded theory methodology for extraction of emerging themes, followed by data triangulation and analysis of negative cases for validation. A policy analysis was then performed using a system dynamics methodology looking for potential interventions to improve this process. Four major emerging themes were found. Definitions using lay language were frequently employed as a way to bridge the language gap between the specialties. Thought experiments presented a series of "what if" situations that helped clarify how the method or information from the other field would behave, if exposed to alternative situations, ultimately aiding in explaining their main objective. Metaphors and analogies were used to translate concepts across fields, from the unfamiliar to the familiar. Prolepsis was used to anticipate study outcomes, thus helping specialists understand the current context based on an understanding of their final goal. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: The communication between clinical researchers and data analysis specialists presents multiple challenges that can lead to errors.





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Publication Info

Zammar, Guilherme Roberto, Jatin Shah, Ana Paula Bonilauri Ferreira, Luciana Cofiel, Kenneth W Lyles and Ricardo Pietrobon (2010). Qualitative analysis of the interdisciplinary interaction between data analysis specialists and novice clinical researchers. PLoS One, 5(2). p. e9400. 10.1371/journal.pone.0009400 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/4528.

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Kenneth Ward Lyles

Professor of Medicine

My research activities focus on understanding ways that osteoporotic fractures affect people and trying to learn ways to reduce their impact on affected individuals and prevent further fractures. I have worked with patient with hip and vertebral fractures, gaining insight into the impairments such fractures cause. Also we have learned that a hip fracture is a major risk factor for subsequent fractures after the initial hip fracture. Our group completed a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that we designed with Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation showing, that an annual infusion of a 5mg of the bisphosphonate zoledronic acid reduced subsequent fractures after a surgical procedure for a hip fracture by 35% when compared to a place infusion (New England Journal of Medicine, 11-1-07). In this study we also observed a 28% reduction in death in the zoledronic acid treated patients. Other research groups have shown that oral bisphosphonates also reduce mortality in patients with osteoporosis. Currently, we, with a number of collaborators, are conducting both animal and human studies to better understand this beneficial effect upon mortality.

In other work, our group tries to understand how other diseases such as strokes and spinal cord injury, and medications such as anticonvulsants place patients at risk for fractures. As we understand the epidemiology of these types of fractures, we plan to develop intervention trials to test whether we can reduce the occurrence of these fractures.

In addition to the above described work our group has help design and conduct a number of phase 1,2 and 3 clinical trials in Paget's disease of Bone and osteoporosis.

Hip and vertebra fractures
Paget's disease of bone
Mobility impairments from metabolic bone diseases

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