Shall we go an extra mile? The IMIM and IDIBELL place the patient at the centre of research

24 Jan
Maite Solans Domènech

Research impact assessment studies show that to achieve more impact on society the participation of ‘people that can provide value’ is an important factor. What these studies show us is that making key actors participate in the long process of research can improve the efficacy of its application and its impact on society. In the conference which AQuAS organised on Participation in Research last April 4, Derek Stewart, very much involved in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement at the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, told us that participation provides different perspectives to research. In addition, Derek Stewart explained that “while patients have the opportunity to configure the future and make sense of what is happening to them in their day to day, researchers have the opportunity to legitimate what they do and make their results visible.”

So what have we learnt from all this? Firstly, that there is diversity of participation in research with a wide range of ways of interaction that are inserted in the different levels of the research process. Secondly, that despite individual idiosyncrasies, a global and shared approach is needed to avoid contradictions and to take advantage of mutual learning. Thirdly, that a commitment is needed on the part of all the different institutions and the research community in order to favour participation in research and to have an impact on society. This is why a Work Group on Participation in Research has been created, (#SomRecerca). Under the initial coordination of AQuAS, different health research institutions have come together to promote actions, agents or strategies that facilitate participation and that foster more awareness of the research community. The principles that accompany this group are based on mutual support and the acceptance that diversity and different realities exist within each context.

The first step taken by this group has been to hold conferences in two institutions (IMIM and IDIBELL), last 22 and 23 of January, under the title Shall we go one step further? Placing the patient at the centre of research. These conferences have been a good opportunity to present experiences that were already on the go within the institution itself which place the patient at the centre of research.

The conferences have made the different experiences stemming from individual motivations worthwhile, of researchers or users themselves, and they have been inspirational as examples of where one can start. The patient has been placed at the centre of research in these experiences: to obtain resources, to generate ideas, to prioritise research or to be a part of the research team, among others.

And more specifically, actions have been proposed that help develop the participation of patients which provides value in research:

  • Informing patients of the research that is being carried out in institutions; that is, bringing research closer to citizens
  • Communicative skills of the researcher towards a non-scientific audience
  • Effective communication channels between patients and researchers, be they via an associative network or via other activities or means of communication such as conferences with patients, etc…
  • Support for all those involved in participation: of recruitment, of time, of resources, between researchers or with a guide.
  • Stable work groups that include the participation of different profiles (basic and clinical researchers, assistants, managers and patients) so as to identify needs, come up with ideas or make proposals, for example.

In short, the synergies between patients and researchers must be sought out in those cases where value can be provided. It is not always and easy path but one which makes a whole lot of sense.

Post written by Maite Solans Domènech.

Altmetrics: complementary metrics focused on the article

19 Apr
Ernest Abadal

The traditional system in assessing the quality of a scientific publication (a journal article, for example) has fundamentally been based on the calculation of the citations it generates. In an article published in Science (1995), Eugene Garfield (1925 – 2017) proposed a citation index as a system that would help authors find articles on a subject. It was a great innovation without doubt. Later, with the creation of the Institute for Scientific Information (today the Web of Science) and the Journal Citation Reports, this system became very prominent and centred its work on the assessment of journals because it helped authors decide in which journal to publish (based on the impact factor calculated for each one).It is a system that has been criticised from the humanities and social sciences and also because it does not focus on the article itself but instead gives the reference value to the journal in which it is published (and presupposes that an article should “inherit” the journal’s impact factor).

From 2010, people started talking about altmetrics, a set of indicators (for example, how often an article is shared, its re-dissemination, the comments it has generated, mentions (likes), etc…) that measure the presence of a publication in social and academic networks, which complement citation indexes considerably. Altmetrics, therefore, assess the repercussion of an article itself and not that of a journal as a whole (the way impact factors do, for example).

At present, several scientific editors have taken this information into consideration. One of the first examples was the journal PLOS, followed by Nature and others. Its use has also spread to data bases (e.g. Scopus) and to academic networks (e.g. ResearchGate). The altmetric data that accompany an article tend to have the sections that appear in figures 1 and 2, even though there can be small differences depending on the programme used (ImpactStory, PLUM, Article Level Metrics, altimetrics.com, etc…).

Figure 1.

Figure 1. Example of the altmetrics of an article in PLOS

And so we can see that it is not only the statistics of presence in social networks that are included (mentions, blogs, etc…) but also the use of data (visualisations and downloads) as well as the citations of an article (in Scopus, CrossRef, PubMed, GoogleScholar, etc…). We are talking about very complete quantitative information for the reader and also for the author of the article.

Figure 2. Example of the altmetrics of an article in Nature

In the case of Nature (figure 2) there is also a graphic representation in the form of a circle or “ring” in which each colour is a type of channel (twitter, blogs, facebook, wikipedia, etc…), where a contextualised percentage is given in relation to articles which are similar in age and it also indicates its precise presence in the general media (“news articles”) and scientific blogs.

Let us do a quick assessment of altmetrics. Their main strengths lie in the fact that they measure the impact of publications beyond academic circles, strictly speaking, that they can be applied to all types of documents (be it an article, a book or a doctoral thesis), that the results are immediate (there is no need to wait for the annual value of the impactor factor) and that they focus on the article (and not on the journal).

In terms of their weak points, it should be said that the indicators need to be collected very quickly (they are very volatile), that it is difficult to compare the indicators between each other (which is of more value, a retweet or a “like”?), that there is great difficulty in the normalisation and homogeneity when collecting data (which does not occur in the case of citations) and that different measuring tools produce different results (e.g. ImpactStory or Altmetrics).

Altmetrics, therefore, help to measure the impact of a specific publication in social networks. This is why we should define them as complementary metrics rather than alternative metrics. In contrast to the traditional impact factor – which is applied to a journal – altmetrics are centred on the article and this is a significant innovation. Despite them having some weak points they are in a consolidation phase and have long-term potential.

From a researcher’s perspective, it is clear that at present publishing an article in a journal is not enough and one needs to be fully involved in its dissemination in social networks (especially Twitter, blogs, etc…) and also in academic networks (Researchgate, Mendeley, etc…) so as to give visibility to the contents published. In this new scenario, altmetrics are fundamental because they are able to measure this impact in networks and offer authors (and readers) a general view of the dissemination of their publications.

Post by Ernest Abadal, Faculty of Library and Information Science, University of Barcelona.

Towards research in nursing with a (greater) impact

15 Mar
Núria Radó

What is it that makes a particular research have an impact on society beyond the strictly academic and which is truly transformative? Can a whole series of actions be planned in the way that one follows a cooking recipe which leads directly to the desired social impact? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The impact is multifactorial and depends on so many different elements and actors that it is difficult to establish a formula to guarantee it.

However, having said that, the fact that there is research which has a particular social impact does not mean that it is a totally random phenomenon and that there is no way of predicting, facilitating or promoting it. Years ago, from the Research Assessment group at the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS), and with the help and complicity of the International School on Research Impact Assessment, ISRIA, we identified a series of facilitators with regards the impact of research.

A fundamental facilitator is people, and the values, culture and capacity of leadership they have. Two identical results of research can have different impacts if the capacity of leadership, drive and will to get beyond academic impact is different. But this is still not enough. The strategy, organisation, collaborations and openness that institutions have will be a great facilitator or barrier for the researchers that have carried out the research.

Finally, both people and institutions will need two indispensable elements in order to aspire to having an impact: on the one hand, a close and effective communication with the different social actors that can play a role in transferring the results of research, and on the other, an approach focused on the participation of all these key players.

To paraphrase Confucius when he said “explain it to me and I will forget, show me and maybe I will remember, involve me and I will understand”, it is all about involving all the necessary actors to bring about a real change and make research transformative.

It is in this context that SARIS (Catalan acronym) came into being, the Assessment System of Research and Innovation in Health. It is a strategic tool which emerged from the PERIS (Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation in Health 2016-2020) with the aim of assessing the research carried out in health in Catalonia from the perspective of always wanting to facilitate and influence so that it has an impact beyond academia. To do this, the motivation and involvement of actors has been defined as a key factor for its development.

Last November, we started a series of participative sessions with nurses who were selected from the PERIS 2017 call in which a line of intensification of nursing professionals was financed.

It is important to emphasise that launching this line with nursing research makes full sense for three reasons: on the one hand, one of the thematic priorities of the PERIS is clearly that of “the development of clinical and translational research which facilitates the growth of scientific and technological knowledge, putting special emphasis on primary care agents and research in nursing”. In addition, the PERIS 2017 nursing fund has been the first to come to an end and it was appropriate to address ourselves to them first and foremost.

Last but not least, the conditions in which nursing research is carried out, with patients and their recovery as its central goal, makes it especially appropriate to ensure that this research has a direct impact on health. Hence, it is important that the research done in nursing be capable of demonstrating the impact that this group of professionals has because it can give it a comparative advantage with regards other biomedical disciplines. Indeed, nursing research is intrinsically translational.

Therefore, the first session centred on identifying the influential actors and in empowering the nurse to carry out an effective communication which amplifies the productive interactions needed to transform the results obtained into benefits for a better and improved health for patients.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the nurses for their participation (readiness and motivation) who attended of their own free will and in their time off work ensuring thus that the session was a success. This demonstrates that from the AQuAS we have leverage to give support to those researchers who are motivated to driving the impact of their research.

At present, we are preparing other sessions that will enable mutual learning between researchers and the assessment agents at the AQuAS.

Post written by Núria Radó Trilla (@nuriarado).

Jornada SARIS: Participación en recerca Barcelona, April 4th 2018.

Committed to research assessment 100%

31 Aug

Since 2001, the AQuAS (Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia) has been in charge of evaluating the proposals of research projects that are eligible to receive funding from the Fundació La Marató de TV3. It means prioritising the research with the most quality using a quantitative and qualitative methodology in a process that lasts months and that ends in a face-to-face meeting of international experts.

Group photograph of the final meeting with international experts in assessing the FMTV3 call on Diabetes. Barcelona, September 2016. From left to right and top to bottom: Gerald Tomking (Diabetes Institution of Ireland), Joan MV Pons (AQuAS), Johann Wojta (Medical University of Vienna), Stephan Zipfel (University of Tuebingen), Karlheinz Friedrich (University Hospital Jena), Maite Solans (AQuAS), Harold de Valk (University Medical Centre Utrecht), Hans-Georg Joost (German Institute of Human Nutrition), Juergen Eckel (German Diabetes Center), Ernest Vinyoles (external observer), Anna Monsó (external observer), Gabriel Capellà (external observer), Jaume Reventós (external observer), Bea Ortega (AQuAS), Esther Vizcaino (AQuAS), Núria Radó (AQuAS)

 

The assessment of research which is centred at the AQuAS considers three different stages in the cycle of research. The assessment of research proposals (avaluació ex-ante), assessment during research (ongoing assessment) and assessment once the research has been completed (avaluació ex-post). The AQuAS has a long track record and lengthy experience in all these stages of research.

The fact that one and the same institution does assessment of research and assessment of the health system is altogether exceptional and is one of the strong points of the AQuAS. The two types of assessment benefit each other mutually as a result of the knowledge that is generated.

Another area of research in which the AQuAS has been a pioneer is in assessing the impact of research. This year, the International School for Research Impact Assessment (ISRIA) will be held in Denmark (more information here).

Since last year, the PERIS call is also assessed, which is an important new event and a strong boost for Catalan biomedical research. With regards to this call, it is worth highlighting the will and determination in placing people at the centre of research, and that we, in fact, right now find ourselves in a very good period because the analysis of data offers many opportunities in research.

Apart from all this there is a long-term task, which will take years, which has to do with the question of research and gender.

The article A global call for action to include gender in research impact assessment very quickly had a strong impact in social networks. It has been a year since we published a post recommending that it be read.

Almetrics evolution of this article: 220 (26/8/2016), 258 (31/8/2017).

The article heads the publications of this magazine in terms of impact.

Noteworthy facts:

Regarding the question of research and gender, we took the topic up again on this blog with another post as a call for reflection and to be aware of the reality that surrounds us, both within and beyond the area of research.

At AQuAS we ask ourselves how such a small team in number but huge in involvement manages to deal with the complex mechanism of comprehensive assessment of several research calls, research impact and also carry out research on the involvement of citizens in research, research in the media and the already mentioned question of research and gender.

In short, a lot of work done and a lot of work on the go at present with 100% involvement of the research team at the AQuAS and of many other collaborators and experts.

The AQuAS research team. From top to bottom and left to right: Ion Arrizabalaga, Paula Adam, Núria Radó and Esther Vizcaino. They do not appear in this photograph but they are also part of the AQuAS research team: Bea Ortega i Maite Solans

Post written by Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret)

Is it possible to combine active and healthy ageing with innovation?

22 Dec
toni-dedeu
Toni Dedéu

The European Innovation Partnership on Active & Healthy Ageing (EIPonAHA) is an initiative of the European Commission to deal strategically with the social challenges associated to active and healthy ageing, to make good practices in innovation more visible and to facilitate exchanges between regions, all of which promote interregional cooperation and the value of excellence.

What is its aim? To improve the health and quality of life of Europeans, especially of people older than 65, and to give support to the sustainability and efficiency of health and social care systems in the long term as well as to enhance the competitiveness of EU industry through expansion in new markets.

The reflection on how health systems interact with an ageing population and care in chronicity has been been one of the main lines followed in the AQuAS blog during 2016; they are subjects that affect our society and, precisely because of this, are part of the Health agenda.

In this context, having links to European projects is fundamental, where networking, collaborative projects and assessment are absolutely essential.

eiponaha

This is the underlying idea of the Reference Sites awards which assess regional European health ecosystems based on four axes:

  1. Political, organisational, technological and financial willingness for an innovative approach to active and healthy ageing
  2. The capacity to share knowledge and resources for innovation
  3. Contributiing to European cooperation and transferability of own practices
  4. Providing evidence of positive impact

The status of “Reference Site” is awarded to systems, alliances and ecosystems in health which comprise different players at a regional European level (government authorities, hospitals and care organisations, the health industry, SMEs and start-ups, research and innovation organisations and civil society) which have invested in developing and implementing innovative-based approaches to active and healthy ageing. These practices must be carried out with a comprehensive approach and vision and proof of the impact of their results must be provided.

Four stars is the highest distinction awarded by EIP on AHA and this is the score obtained by Catalonia as a leading health ecosystem and a reference for institutions and European organisations in the area of innovation in active and healthy ageing. These factors encourage the internationalisation and visibility of the Catalan health system and at the same time increase the possibilities for creating initiatives and forming consortiums for collaborative work with other European regions.

Being self-critical of the  different health systems is as important as the knowledge and recognition of one’s own strengths and values. Sharing this is a way of acknowledging the involvement and work done by many professionals. We do not work in isolation; as a whole, this work has involved and involves AQuAS, the Fundació TicSalut, the HUBc (Health University of the Barcelona Campus), the ICS  (Catalan Health Institut),  the IDIAP Jordi Gol (Institute for Research in Primary Care), the Pere Mata Institute, the IRB Lleida (Biomedical Research Institution of Lleida), the VHIR (Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca), the Consorci Sanitari del Garraf  and the Institut Guttmann.

Last 7 December in Brussels, on behalf of the Department of Health, I received the award for the Catalonia Reference Site group given by the European Commission. It is relevant because this fact defines Catalonia as one of the most dynamic and leading European regions in number and quality of initiatives, investment and results in generating and implementing innovative solutions to resolving problems in care and health to elderly people, chronic patients and other groups of risk patients.

The fact that Catalonia has obtained this distinction from the European Commission has a very clear meaning: Catalonia is recognised as one of the leading European regions regarding active and healthy ageing and innovation.

On we go.

Post written by Toni Dedéu (@Toni_Dedeu), Managing Director of AQuAS.