Opportunities for burns research in the era of trainee-led collaboratives

Dr Guy Stanley1, Professor Fiona Wood2

1Australasian Clinical Trials in Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery (ACTPRAS) collaborative , , , 2Burns Service of Western Australia, ,


BACKGROUND: The United Kingdom and Australasian colleges of surgeons’ support trainee-led research collaboratives (TRCs) to perform low-cost, high-impact, multicentre studies. These have supplied the infrastructure and funding for larger randomised controlled trials. However, there are few international, surgical speciality collaboratives; fewer burns projects; and no single ‘burns’ collaborative. This study performed an observational, cross-sectional analysis of Australasian, UK and international collaboratives to measure burns research output and discuss if and how burns research can benefit from adopting this model.

METHOD: Australasian, UK and international collaboratives, their projects and publications were analysed for research output*.

RESULTS & DISCUSSION: The 12 Australasian, 36 UK and 2 international TRCs have published widely. The predominant type of study was observational with low-risk ethics, to facilitate multicentre adoption. There were 2 burns studies with 1 complete (assessing the impact of COVID-19 on burns units) and one underway (assessing prospective surgical technique). Reasons identified as to why burn projects haven’t been adopted are that: burns registries remove the need for prospective audits; TRCs only target doctors; TRC publications only benefit doctors.

CONCLUSION: TRCs have low- to no-cost of entry, with groups using surgical trainees’ desires to research. However, there is little uptake in burns. This promising organisational method engages a community of researchers while building towards randomised controlled trials. Future burns researchers might consider an international collaborative endorsed by burns associations; engaging allied health and nursing staff; offering Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points; moreover, targeting the high morbidity and mortality of burns in lower-and-middle income countries.

* Jamjoom AAB, Phan PNH, Hutchinson PJ, et al Surgical trainee research collaboratives in the UK: an observational study of research activity and publication productivity BMJ Open 2016;6:e010374. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010374


Medical Officer at South Metropolitan Health Service

Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia

pre-SET lead for the Australasian Plastic Surgery collaborative (ACTPRAS)

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