High quality clinical research is always challenging, and this is particularly true among children admitted to hospital. There are fewer children in hospital compared with adult patients, and they have a vast array of diagnoses. This makes answering clinical research questions difficult when working at a single centre.
Even for common diagnoses, there is often inadequate evidence to guide our management decisions, resulting in substantial variation in practice. In this context, high quality research addressing questions relevant to inpatient general paediatrics is a priority.
Accordingly, the majority of clinical trials addressing questions relevant to inpatient general paediatrics have been in single centres with relatively small patient numbers, meaning there is less ability to generalise outcomes to other settings.
In late 2018, recognising the potential of a multicentre collaboration, the Children’s Inpatient Research Collaborative of Australia and New Zealand (CIRCAN) was born. This initiative comprises a community of inpatient paediatric clinicians with an interest in research. Membership is inclusive of inpatient general paediatricians, nursing, and allied health staff. We aim to improve general paediatric hospital care and outcomes through robust clinical research.
The network will provide a platform for brainstorming research ideas, pooling observational data, conducting clinical trials and, eventually, translating research outcomes. We aim to build a high level of clinician and consumer engagement to generate and implement evidence that makes a measurable difference in the quality of care delivered in our hospitals.
We hope to identify overlaps and synergies between trainee research projects and offer an opportunity for collaboration. Members of the network will have the opportunity to support and supervise PhD students – mentoring and developing the next generation of researchers.
Tertiary centres are traditionally over-represented in clinical studies. CIRCAN’s priority is to ensure children presenting to non-tertiary hospitals are included in paediatric research. It is also a priority to provide clinicians who do not have the support of a local research team with the opportunity to contribute to research.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Children’s Healthcare Australasia have provided seed support for the CIRCAN initiative. Deakin University has provided in-kind support to develop the website and the app for the OM-85 trial. There is no cost to join and no research experience is required.
The hospitals represented include tertiary, secondary, metropolitan and regional sites. There are representatives from every state and territory of Australia, as well as the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Improve the capacity and output of paediatric research activities by coordinating the efforts of individual institutions.
Set research priorities and create a research infrastructure for paediatric inpatient care research on an international level.
Mentor new investigators to improve research skills and develop research capacity.
Translate research knowledge to improvements in paediatric inpatient clinical practice
Support the ongoing development of multi-centre safety and quality initiatives.
Increase consumer participation in the design and implementation of inpatient paediatric research.