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Collaboration in Hand Surgery: Experiences From Silicone Arthroplasty in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Finger Replantation and Amputation Challenges in Assessing Impairment, Satisfaction, and Effectiveness, Wrist and Radius Injury Surgical Trial, and Surgery of the Ulnar Nerve


J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020 Apr 27. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-20-00102. Online ahead of print.

Robert L Kane 1, Kevin C Chung

Author Information

1 From the Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School (Mr. Kane), and the Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery,University of Michigan Medical School (Dr. Chung), Ann Arbor, MI.


Outcomes research has historically been driven by single-center investigations. However, multicenter studies represent an opportunity to overcome challenges associated with single-center studies, including generalizability and adequate power. In hand surgery, most clinical trials are single-center studies, with few having randomized controls and blinding of both participants and assessors. This pervasive issue jeopardizes the integrity of evidence-based practice in the field. Because healthcare payers emphasize applying the best available evidence to justify medical services, multicenter research collaborations are increasingly recognized as an avenue for efficiently generating high-quality evidence. Although no study design is perfect, the potential advantages of multicenter trials include generalizability of the results, larger sample sizes, and a collaboration of experienced investigators poised to optimize protocol development and study conduct. As the era of single-center studies shifts toward investment in multicenter trials and clinical registries, investigators will inevitably be faced with the challenges of conducting or contributing to multicenter research collaborations. We present our experiences in conducting multicenter investigations to provide insight into this demanding and rewarding frontier of research.