NJR Research Committee (RC)

Chair’s report – Professor J Mark Wilkinson

Mark Wilkinson
Professor J Mark Wilkinson
Chair NJR Executive Committee

One of the research projects that has used NJR data is the Patient Decision Support Tool
In the above video Prof Mark Wilkinson talks about the tool.

The Research Committee is responsible for delivering the research agenda of the NJR. The committee’s aim is to enhance the understanding of the science of arthroplasty, improve clinical practice and benefit public health.

Research provides the route to improved treatments and keeping patients at the centre of what we do is a guiding principle for all of our research activity. During 2020/21 the committee has had oversight of several major projects. Below are details of a small selection of these projects amongst a varied programme of work currently underway. These projects represent key achievements for the NJR in meeting our aim to maximise the value of the registry dataset to patients and the wider healthcare community. My thanks go to all members of the committee for their efforts in the past year and for their hard work which makes it possible to facilitate data access and to support these high quality research outputs.

We are pleased to welcome Derek Pegg, NJR Regional Clinical Coordinators Committee and Data Quality Committee Chair onto the committee as a co-opted member. We also welcome Dave Townshend onto the committee as a specialist in foot and ankle research. I’d like to also express my thanks to Jitendra Mangwani for his contributions to the committee over recent years.

Patient Decision Support Tool

The NJR Patient Decision Support Tool is a web-enabled personalised patient decision-making tool for those considering hip or knee replacement. This simple tool, the development of which was supported by the charity Versus Arthritis, will help patients who are considering having a joint replacement to make evidence-based choices about their treatment and share decision-making with their clinicians, when considering the benefits and risks of their undergoing joint replacement. To date, there have been over 35,000 visits to the website from over 100 countries, with very positive feedback received.    

Having launched this tool (available here), we are continuing to collaborate with academic partners to further develop the underpinning prediction algorithm methodology. This will result in more agile algorithms that will allow the most up-to-date registry data to be used to calculate the projected risks and benefits of joint replacement surgery, thus increasing the versatility of the prediction tool.

NJR Health Economics

We continue to fund health economics work conducted at the University of Bristol and this year this programme has focused on examining the budget impact on the NHS of implant types used in primary total hip replacements.

NJR Data Access Portal

The NJR Data Access Portal represents a secure data access platform that houses registry data in a secure environment that researchers can access under strict data protection protocol, reducing the administrative burden of legal permissions that would be required if data were to be released to them directly. This portal has been used by several groups to access registry data and the portal will now be the standard mechanism by which data is made available to researchers. We have entered into a sub-licensing agreement with NHS Digital that allows applications for linked NJR, HES, PROMs and mortality data to be managed under a single application. Details of how to apply for secure access to NJR data for research purposes can be found at: https://www.njrcentre.org.uk/njrcentre/Research/Research-requests.

NJR Annual Research Programme

Building on many high quality publications over the years, we continue to develop our annual research programme. Current projects include: inequalities in provision and outcomes; development of an arthroplasty morbidity index; examining factors associated with revision and its outcomes and an examination of the data quality of the national PROMs programme. As projects complete, new topics are brought on-stream. All projects are delivered in a collaboration between the NJR Research Committee and the University of Bristol.

Use of NJR data this year

The Research Committee encourages external use of the registry dataset to address questions of clinical relevance and this year the dataset has provided opportunities for several external researchers to develop innovative projects.

Our dataset has been used as the key resource in 21 research papers published during this same time-period, of which five were conducted or led by external, independent researchers.

Please see the NJR Research Project Portfolio here which catalogues all sanctioned research projects, progress reports and NJR updates in relation to research, using the NJR dataset, together with links to all publications related to NJR data.

Research Fellowship Scheme

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the committee was unable to appoint to the NJR Research Fellowship in 2020 but will be running a recruitment campaign during the following year. The NJR’s Joint Clinical Research Fellowship scheme is run in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons of England, helping the NJR to support high quality research in orthopaedics. Prospective fellows are encouraged to apply to the rolling programme. The NJR encourages applications from a diverse pool of applicants. Look out for ongoing opportunities on the NJR website.

Submitting a research application

The Research Committee takes formal responsibility for the approval for the release of NJR data for research through an impartial and objective process and has oversight of the use and reporting of this data by research groups. Its priority is to ensure that any research question justifies access to the data and offers potential benefits to patients. Research proposals should align to our priority framework and be feasible, ethical, relevant, and methodologically-sound.

We have a commitment to uphold the standard and consistency of work that is carried out using registry data, in line with both national and international legislation. Therefore, all requests must also be approved by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) Data Access Review Group for final authorisation of data release.

Further information

If you would like to submit a research application, the first step in this process is to check whether the same topic is currently being examined by another research team by visiting the NJR Research Project Portfolio, then submit an expression of interest for consideration. Invited full applications are reviewed by the committee quarterly. Full details of the NJR’s research application pathway, together with detailed guidance notes for applicants, can be found here [https://www.njrcentre.org.uk/njrcentre/Research].

A full list of publications related to NJR data is included in Appendix 4.

Mark Wilkinson – 2021

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