COVID-19: Research Results, Reports, and Other Highlights
Study: Pulse Oximeters Shown Not to Improve Outcomes for Patients with COVID-19 Recovering at Home
Patients with COVID-19 who were remotely monitored at home using a text-message-based program — known as COVID Watch — did not experience better outcomes if they used a pulse oximeter, according to research findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Supported in part by PCORI funding, the study — led by Mucio Delgado, MD, MS, at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine — compared patients who received standard care as part of the COVID Watch program to patients in the same program who were given a pulse oximeter to monitor their oxygen levels. Researchers found that adding the pulse oximeter did not save more lives or keep more people out of the hospital.
Study: COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Experienced Rates of Moral Injury Similar to Combat Veterans
A PCORI-funded research registry of more than 55,000 healthcare workers and their families has powered a study that provides important insights into the psyche of COVID-19 healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Results appearing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine show that COVID-19 healthcare workers experienced high rates of potential moral injury that are comparable to rates among combat veterans. Moral injuries are defined as actions that conflict with values and beliefs, causing psychological harm.
Heart Complication Risk Higher After COVID-19 Infection Than Vaccination, Study Finds
Looking at electronic health record data from more than four million children and adults who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and more than 800,000 patients who tested positive for COVID-19, researchers found that the incidence of myocarditis or pericarditis was significantly higher among adolescents and young adults who tested positive for COVID-19 compared with same-aged individuals who received a vaccine.
These results will enable a better understanding about the comparative risks of heart complications following COVID-19 infection and vaccination. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-led study is the latest example of how PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network—funded by PCORI—is facilitating robust COVID-19 research.
Study Using PCORnet® Suggests Disparities in Receipt of COVID-19 Medications
Underscoring the health inequities that have characterized the COVID-19 pandemic, an analysis of health data accessed via a PCORI-funded network suggests that monoclonal antibodies, medications highly effective at lessening the severity of COVID-19, are underused among individuals who identify as Black, Asian, or Hispanic. This apparent underuse occurred even though these groups are experiencing higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-led study analyzed patient data from 41 healthcare systems participating in PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, funded by PCORI to conduct research more efficiently.
Changes to Telehealth Policy, Delivery, and Outcomes in Response to COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid shift toward virtual visits and digital tools to monitor and help patients manage their health care. PCORI solicited a landscape review to summarize how reimbursement, regulatory, and delivery systems have changed for telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. The goal was to use this information, in combination with conversations with key stakeholders, to better understand how changes in the delivery system during COVID-19 might alter PCORI’s strategic focus on future investment in telehealth research. This report provides a rich summary of changes under the pandemic and highlights some areas in telehealth where additional research may be valuable.
Database Identifies Emerging Technologies, Innovations
PCORI's Health Care Horizon Scanning System identifies and monitors new and emerging healthcare technologies and innovations with high potential to change the current standard of care. This systematic process informs PCORI’s investments in patient-centered outcomes research.
PCORI’s Horizon Scanning Database offers healthcare decision makers findings about advancements in six key areas of interest: Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, COVID-19, mental and behavioral health, and rare diseases. This database can be used by patients, care partners, and others to track advancements in care options.
PCORnet Facilitates New Research on Drugs' Effectiveness for COVID-19
ACTIV-6 — a new clinical trial platform unveiled by the National Institutes of Health — will use PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, to help determine if some prescription and over-the-counter medications can effectively treat COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients. While some drugs approved for other conditions have been studied to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, ACTIV-6 aims to provide definitive evidence for patients and clinicians seeking to manage the disease and avoid hospitalization.
PCORI-Funded Research Studies and Engagement Awards
Newly Funded Studies Target COVID-19 Vaccination among Long-Term Care Workers
In July 2021, PCORI announced funding for two new studies on comparing ways to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among workers in long-term care facilities. One study, by a team at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, will compare three approaches to vaccine education materials. Another study, by Dartmouth College researchers, will compare two promising ways to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine among long-term care workers with usual efforts currently under way. (More information)
PCORI Approves Funding for Nine COVID-19 Research Studies
In August and September 2020, PCORI approved funding for nine new studies assessing various healthcare approaches to improve outcomes among people infected by the novel coronavirus and lessen its effects on patients, healthcare workers, and communities. Among the first seven approved studies are projects comparing the impacts on patients from state and local pandemic containment and mitigation policies, as well as projects on healthcare access and disparities in outcomes among racial and ethnic minorities and underserved populations.
An eighth study will look at the effects of policy changes relating to COVID-19-related medication-assisted treatment on people with opioid use disorders, and a ninth study will investigate different types and intensities of four basic preventive interventions in reducing rates of COVID-19 and related hospitalization and mortality in staff and adult residents with serious mental illness (SMI) and intellectual or developmental disabilities in congregate care settings. (View Studies)
PCORI Funds 25 Special Engagement Award Projects
In April 2020, PCORI sought proposals for projects that would help communities increase their capacity to participate across all phases of the research process while responding to contextual changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The special funding announcement also facilitated the exploration of virtual and distanced methods of engagement, and the generation of new questions and evidence needs across stakeholder groups. Through the special announcement, PCORI funded 25 projects. (View Projects)
PCORI-Funded Projects Receive Additional Funding to Address COVID-19
More than 150 investigator-initiated proposals were submitted in 2020 to address the COVID-19 public health crisis from our existing awardees. The submitted proposals offer ways to transform existing awards to serve their original aims while offering findings related to COVID-19. The projects cover a range of health conditions, including mental health, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases, and a variety of health intervention strategies, such as telemedicine and behavioral interventions. PCORI approved these award enhancements on a rolling basis. Learn about the projects and the focus of their award enhancements. (View Projects)
Closed PCORI Funding Announcements
Engagement Award: Building Capacity for PCOR/CER for Topics Related to COVID-19
This special funding opportunity will support projects that enable organizations and communities to build their capacity and skills to participate across all phases of the PCOR/CER process on topics that address health outcomes related to COVID-19. Projects will also provide an understanding of the impact of stakeholder engagement strategies within different settings and stakeholder groups focused on this special area of interest.
View the closed funding opportunity
Increasing Vaccine Confidence among Long-Term Care Workers: Expedited COVID-19 Targeted PCORI Funding Announcement -- April 2021
PCORI accepted proposals for comparative effectiveness research studies that answer the following question: What interventions are effective in increasing COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake among long-term care workers?
View the closed funding opportunity
COVID-19-Related Enhancements to Existing PCORI-Funded Projects
PCORI sought proposals from PCORI-funded study principal investigators and project leads that address the COVID-19 public health crisis through enhancements of their ongoing studies/projects.
View the closed announcements
COVID-19 Targeted PFA (Cycle 2 2020)
PCORI sought proposals for research that seeks to strengthen our understanding of ways to mitigate the virus’s impact and provide evidence to inform clinical and public health responses and planning.
View the closed funding opportunity
Engagement Award: Supporting Engagement in and Dissemination of PCOR/CER in the Context of COVID-19
PCORI sought proposals for projects that would help communities increase their ability to participate across all phases of research while responding to societal changes resulting from the pandemic.
View the closed funding opportunity
Messages from PCORI's Leadership
By Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH
April 15, 2020—After recognizing this public health crisis and the impact that COVID-19 will have on our nation, our senior leaders, staff, and Board of Governors pivoted to focus on what PCORI could do in coordination with ongoing efforts across government, industry, and other funders.
Our attention turned to critical dimensions of this pandemic, particularly the healthcare workers on the front lines—physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and all personnel, both medical and nonmedical, who work each day in hospitals, triage tents, drive-through testing stations, and clinics providing compassionate care to individuals with COVID-19. The Board of Governors earlier this month approved up to $50 million to fund a registry and randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers. Our respect and gratitude for these essential workers is beyond measure.
Our thoughts are also with the many patients, families, caregivers, and friends grappling with this disease’s devastating toll. PCORI is uniquely poised to focus on patients and their caregivers; it is in our organizational DNA. Thus, since the beginning of this crisis, we have collaborated with our funded researchers to explore adding COVID-19-related aims to existing patient-centered projects.
Last week, we posted funding opportunities of up to $20 million for such work. Following a board vote early this month that provided up to $30 million for new COVID-19-related research, we are putting the pieces into place to solicit innovative research projects from the nation’s investigators and healthcare stakeholder communities to support new COVID-19-related research, engagement, and dissemination projects.
Urgent and unknowable concerns related to COVID-19 will emerge over the arc of time. At times like these, I am reminded of the lessons in humility that science and medicine teach me every day. These lessons will help us persevere through the challenging COVID-19 pandemic and enable us to attend to the next decade of leadership in comparative clinical effectiveness research.
Note: This message was adapted from a blog post by Dr. Cook, titled "Our Shared Journey to Enduring Success."
By Josie P. Briggs, MD
Former Interim Executive Director
March 27, 2020—In light of the spread of COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus, the health and well-being of everyone is our primary concern as we endeavor to continue carrying out our mission with a concentration on reacting quickly to the current public health emergency.
Safety and well-being are integral to our research funding, engagement with stakeholders, and other services, business processes, and infrastructure. We are assessing the situation daily, remaining vigilant, and following all recommendations from the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and federal and state authorities.
Staff Availability: Following federal and state guidance to promote social distancing, PCORI’s staff has shifted to telework and is conducting meetings and other business through virtual platforms such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing. We will strive to be accessible and minimize disruptions as much as possible under the circumstances. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we engage with you under extraordinary conditions.
Meetings: We are curtailing all business travel by PCORI staff for the foreseeable future. During that same period, we are postponing, switching to all-virtual formats, or canceling PCORI-hosted meetings. We appreciate your understanding. We are continuing with preparations for the 2020 PCORI Annual Meeting, scheduled for September 16-17 in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. However, we may have to make appropriate adjustments to our plans, if necessary. We are also working with awardees to support their efforts to convert their planned in-person meetings to all-virtual formats or to postpone or cancel their meetings.
Funding Opportunities and Deadlines: As necessary, we are adjusting the deadlines related to our funding announcements and quickly exploring ways that PCORI can contribute to the evidence base for addressing this public health crisis. Revised deadlines and opportunities are noted in the Funding Opportunities section of our website and in these FAQs.
As we chart our course through these uncertain times together, we affirm PCORI’s ongoing commitment to our core activities of supporting engagement in research and studies that provide information people need to make better-informed healthcare decisions. We will continue to provide updated information and guidance through our website to awardees, applicants, and other stakeholders as the situation develops.
Communities are facing enormous challenges and PCORI is committed to contributing to the important work needed to address the many uncertainties that face us all.
What's Happening at PCORI?
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute sends weekly emails about opportunities to apply for funding, newly funded research studies and engagement projects, results of our funded research, webinars, and other new information posted on our site.