The national drug abuse treatment clinical trials network data share project: website design, usage, challenges, and future directions.
BACKGROUND: There are many benefits of data sharing, including the promotion of new research from effective use of existing data, replication of findings through re-analysis of pooled data files, meta-analysis using individual patient data, and reinforcement of open scientific inquiry. A randomized controlled trial is considered as the 'gold standard' for establishing treatment effectiveness, but clinical trial research is very costly, and sharing data is an opportunity to expand the investment of the clinical trial beyond its original goals at minimal costs.
PURPOSE: We describe the goals, developments, and usage of the Data Share website (http://www.ctndatashare.org) for the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN) in the United States, including lessons learned, limitations, and major revisions, and considerations for future directions to improve data sharing.
METHODS: Data management and programming procedures were conducted to produce uniform and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant de-identified research data files from the completed trials of the CTN for archiving, managing, and sharing on the Data Share website.
RESULTS: Since its inception in 2006 and through October 2012, nearly 1700 downloads from 27 clinical trials have been accessed from the Data Share website, with the use increasing over the years. Individuals from 31 countries have downloaded data from the website, and there have been at least 13 publications derived from analyzing data through the public Data Share website.
LIMITATIONS: Minimal control over data requests and usage has resulted in little information and lack of control regarding how the data from the website are used. Lack of uniformity in data elements collected across CTN trials has limited cross-study analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: The Data Share website offers researchers easy access to de-identified data files with the goal to promote additional research and identify new findings from completed CTN studies. To maximize the utility of the website, ongoing collaborative efforts are needed to standardize the core measures used for data collection in the CTN studies with the goal to increase their comparability and to facilitate the ability to pool data files for cross-study analyses.