An online tool to assess the quality of research programs


Aurora Research Institute


Background: Many community-based research programs do not have resources to support a quality assurance program and rely exclusively on external audits. Although valuable, external audits are retrospective and may not result in preventive actions. The ASCO Research Program Quality Assessment Tool was developed to help community-based research sites develop a quality program and exceed the minimum standards of conducting clinical research. The original tool was released in 2014 and featured a manual and resources, including a self-assessment checklist tool. In 2015, an online version of the checklist tool was developed for sites to assess their research program in a way that would be sustainable and not burdensome. The tool covers four key domains: general research program administration; program management; protocol management; and data collection, management, and quality control.

Methods: A pilot study was conducted with community-based research programs to assess the utility and feasibility of the tool. Participants completed a series of questions about their research program’s experience and infrastructure. They conducted the quality assessment and completed a feedback survey on the process.

Results: 18 research programs participated in the pilot study. Participants were from a variety of types of research programs. All respondents indicated that the tool was: user-friendly, comprehensive, and instructions and data entry were easily understood. They felt the summary report was useful and accurately reflected the quality of their program. Respondents reported that the tool identified specific areas to improve their program (72.2%) and they planned to make changes based on what was learned (72.2%). Respondents indicated that they would use the tool for their program (83.3%) and thought the manual was helpful (88.9%).

Conclusions: The new online version of the ASCO Research Program Quality Assessment Tool helps research programs create and maintain an internal quality assurance program in a way that is sustainable, user-friendly, and not burdensome. The tool will enable sites to collect data and assess performance longitudinally. The online tool is available online viawww.asco.org/communityresearchforum.

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