Clinical Research Informatics: Supporting the Research Study Lifecycle
11 September 2017 (online)
Objectives: The primary goal of this review is to summarize significant developments in the field of Clinical Research Informatics (CRI) over the years 2015-2016. The secondary goal is to contribute to a deeper understanding of CRI as a field, through the development of a strategy for searching and classifying CRI publications.
Methods: A search strategy was developed to query the PubMed database, using medical subject headings to both select and exclude articles, and filtering publications by date and other characteristics. A manual review classified publications using stages in the “research study lifecycle”, with key stages that include study definition, participant enrollment, data management, data analysis, and results dissemination.
Results: The search strategy generated 510 publications. The manual classification identified 125 publications as relevant to CRI, which were classified into seven different stages of the research lifecycle, and one additional class that pertained to multiple stages, referring to general infrastructure or standards. Important cross-cutting themes included new applications of electronic media (Internet, social media, mobile devices), standardization of data and procedures, and increased automation through the use of data mining and big data methods.
Conclusions: The review revealed increased interest and support for CRI in large-scale projects across institutions, regionally, nationally, and internationally. A search strategy based on medical subject headings can find many relevant papers, but a large number of non-relevant papers need to be detected using text words which pertain to closely related fields such as computational statistics and clinical informatics. The research lifecycle was useful as a classification scheme by highlighting the relevance to the users of clinical research informatics solutions.