Pediatricians form research network

When children visit their pediatricians with everyday problems such as acute diarrhea and ear infections, the treatments can vary greatly from doctor to doctor and from office to office.

To identify the most effective treatments for some of these problems, a group of local pediatricians has joined forces with School of Medicine physicians to form a practice-based pediatric research network.

“We want to identify tests and treatments that are most beneficial to patients when they see their pediatricians and nurse practitioners,” said Jane Garbutt, M.B., Ch.B., program director of the Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium. “We want to measure the effects of treatments on symptom resolution, recurrence rates and patient satisfaction because those things aren’t always measured in a randomized, controlled trial.”

Garbutt, who also is a research assistant professor of medicine, said the consortium is a grassroots organization that’s had a groundswell of support since its inception in 2002. The network’s goal was to recruit pediatricians from 20 local practices; it now has 66 pediatricians from 33 practices.

“It’s not feasible to have a research assistant in every office,” Garbutt said. “It’s much more efficient if we can enroll a few patients from lots of different practices so we can share the burden of conducting research. This approach also makes our findings more generalizable.”

Funding from the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation and Children’s medical staff has enabled the consortium to recruit members, conduct two studies, establish a listserve and do some faculty development.

One study is measuring the prevalence of antibiotic resistant streptococcus pneumonia — the bacteria most often associated with acute ear infections and acute sinusitis — in children with an acute upper respiratory illness.

The other study is determining how children with acute diarrhea are cared for in the community. Acute diarrhea, Garbutt said, is the fourth-most-common reason children go to Children’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department.

James Keating, M.D., the W. McKim O. Marriott Professor of Pediatrics, is the consortium’s faculty liaison director, and Elliot Gellman, M.D., professor of pediatrics, serves as the membership liaison director.

The network would like to study treatment for pinkeye, the use of antidepressants in teenagers and treatment of obesity in the near future but must secure funding for each study.

Garbutt is confident that the network will continue to enhance the care provided to children in their pediatricians’ offices.

“Patients generally are very enthusiastic — they like to see that their doctor is cutting edge,” she said.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.