Clinical Study Coordination Services

The BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine offers efficient and effective research services that support the conduct of high impact clinical and translational research.

Emergency Department Research Coordinator (EDRC) Program

Established in 2016, the EDRC Program is a cutting-edge clinical research study coordination service available to researchers across University of Wisconsin–Madison. Our team of highly trained staff is integrated into the BerbeeWalsh Emergency Department at UW Health to screen, consent, and enroll patients into research studies.

EDRC team members can collect behavioral and survey data using measurements, standardized surveys, and qualitative interviews, and partner with nursing staff to collect and store biological specimens, including blood, saliva, and urine.

We are able to support research projects funded by federal, foundation, and industry sponsors, including device trials and development of other diagnostic tools. Investigators from UW–Madison, other universities or private companies may request our services.

Request a Consultation
Please call or email to request a consultation:

Phoebe Natzke, MS
Research Services Manager
(608) 262-1452

Our Services & Capabilities

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We make participant recruitment and data collection from a diverse patient population in the ED a reality

The emergency department (ED) at University Hospital cares for 180 patients per day on average. Here our providers deliver exceptional patient-centered emergency care as part of an operationally efficient health system at UW Health, the integrated health system of the University of Wisconsin.

Our ED is one of just two academic medical centers in the state. It is certified as a Level 1 Trauma and Burn Center and is a busy quaternary care center.

Our team can effectively identify and enroll patients and visitors in the ED, with over 100,000 individuals eligible annually. This population is diverse in terms of demographic and clinical characteristics, and represents the full lifespan from birth to old age. Staff members can perform consent and simple procedures for research studies or obtain permission to contact.

The ED cares for patients from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We partner with UW Health’s Translation Services to be able to include individuals with non-English Language Preference in screening and recruitment.

We ensure study protocols are feasible for recruiting in a fast-paced clinical environment

All research protocols to be implemented by the EDRC Program are reviewed by a team of Department of Emergency Medicine research faculty to ensure they meet appropriate rigor and feasibility for successful recruitment.

EDRC Program staff partner with emergency department clinical staff to effectively recruit patients into appropriate research opportunities during the patient’s stay in the ED.

Our staff receive training and have the know-how to appropriately engage with patients and their families during complex healthcare experiences.

We strategize methods to deliver efficient mechanisms for participant recruitment

Our staff have experience recruiting for a wide variety of studies, encompassing a variety of patient populations and acuities, with many types of study teams.

We have the knowledge and skills to identify factors that interface with successful recruitment, and work with investigators to develop strategies for appropriately approaching patients during their stay in the emergency department.

We rigorously adhere to study protocols and accurately complete study procedures

Our staff are trained to adhere to HIPAA regulations and always protect the privacy and security of patients’ and research participants’ Protected Health Information (“PHI”) as required by law.

Investigators can be assured that our research coordinators operate with precision and follow protocols exactly as approved by the UW Institutional Review Board or other governing body.

Our team performs informed consent procedures and enrolls patients using a variety of electronic data capture systems to communicate with study teams. We work with study teams to ensure that EDRC Program staff are proficient in tools required for the administration of study activities.

Our team is also able to collect biological specimens, including blood, saliva, and urine. Team members are also well versed in methods for processing and storing these samples.

We advance quality improvement projects and initiatives

In addition to supporting novel research, the EDRC Program assists with quality improvement projects and initiatives at UW Health.

Such projects have included conducting patient surveys regarding implementation of the Healthcare Fraud And The False Claims Act (FCA), assisting nursing staff with completing COVID-19 forms early in the pandemic, and supporting care teams with infection control measures and isolation precautions.

Studies Currently Enrolling in the Emergency Department

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Data Driven Strategies for Substance Misuse Identification in Hospitalized Patients

Background: The prevalence of substance misuse in hospitalized patients is estimated to be 15%-25% and far exceeds the prevalence in the general population. With over 35 million hospitalized patients per year, tens of millions of patients are not screened for substance misuse during their stay. Despite the recommendation for self-report questionnaires screening rates remains low in hospitals. Current screening methods are resource-intensive.

Aim: This study proposes the use of a comprehensive and automated approach to substance misuse screening that will augment current clinical workflow would therefore be of great utility.

Our services: EDRCs identify patients likely to be admitted to a University Hospital inpatient service, discuss the study with them and gather basic demographic information in the ED. Once the patient is admitted, the study team approaches to complete study activities, which include administering the standard NIDA-TAPS substance use questionnaire.

Primary researcher: Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Implementing MedSMA℞T Families in the Emergency Department Setting: A Game-based Approach for Improving Opioid Safety Among Adolescents and Parents

Aim: MedSMA℞T Families is a digital health intervention study that combines the mobile game MedSMA℞T: Adventures in PharmaCity with a digital personalized family medication plan to promote communication between adolescents and their families about safe prescription opioid use. Implementation of MedSMA℞T Families in the ED setting provides healthcare staff with an effective tool for improving patient care by addressing their opioid knowledge gaps and promoting positive health behaviors in the home.

Our services: EDRCs identify adolescent and adult patients who may have access to opioid medications in their household. After discussing the study with the patient and/or caregiver, EDRCs confirm eligibility and walk through the informed consent and/or assent process. Participants complete follow-up sessions remotely with the Pharmacy MedSMA℞T study team, including playing the study game, completing a family medication safety plan and answering survey questions.

Primary researchers: This study is led by co-PI’s Dr. Allie Hurst, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and Dr. Olufunmilola Abraham, assistant professor, UW School of Pharmacy

Improving Patient Classification and Outcome Measurement in Traumatic Brain Injury

Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very common injury with no effective treatments. Many clinical trials on traumatic brain injury (TBI) have failed in the past due to knowledge gaps on the heterogeneity of patient profiles and limitations in clinical outcome measurements.

Aim: This study aims to better understand TBI sub-types and to identify more precise outcome measures to facilitate how research is conducted on TBI. This study will use a novel analytic approach to advance knowledge about how to classify patients with TBI and measure outcomes, which could transform how neurobiological and treatment research of TBI is conducted and facilitate the identification of effective treatments.

Our services: The ED research coordinators complete multiple visits with patients for this longitudinal study. The acute visit occurs at the initial emergency department encounter and includes data collection regarding past medical history and the mechanism of injury. Subsequent visits include standardized cognitive assessments and formal and informal questionnaires to understand functioning prior to injury. Coordinators also obtain blood specimens at each visit point from each patient for analyses aimed at identifying biomarkers present during each phase of recovery. EDRCs are responsible for processing of these blood specimens.

Primary researchers: This study is led by Marin Darsie, MD, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, in collaboration with Lyndsay Nelson, PhD, ABPP, associate professor, Brain Injury Research Program, Medical College of Wisconsin.

Mobile Subthreshold Exercise Program (M-STEP) for Concussion

Aim: 1.9 million youth sustain a concussion each year and 15-30% experience persistent post-concussive symptoms (PPCS). Research indicates that gradual increases in exercise below the threshold that induces symptoms (subthreshold exercise) could facilitate recovery. This randomized controlled clinical trial will assess the efficacy of the Mobile Subthreshold Exercise Program (M-STEP) for youth with PPCS. The intervention will occur over 6 weeks and youth will be followed for 6 months.

Our services: EDRCs identify adolescent patients with recent head trauma or persistent post-concussive symptoms. After discussing the study with the patient, EDRCs obtain contact information and complete a basic symptoms survey. The research team at Seattle Children’s follows up with eligible patients to initiate the 6-week remote intervention.

Primary researcher: M. Alison Brooks, MD, MPH, associate professor, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Operationalizing Sex Trafficking Screening in an Academic Emergency Department: A Quality Initiative

Aim: This project initiates child sex trafficking screening using a prior, electronic, validated screening tool in the pediatric emergency department at the American Family Children’s Hospital using quality improvement methodology.

Our services: EDRCs identify adolescent patients to approach in the emergency room for completion of this screening tool based on their clinical presentation or high-risk indicators noted in their medical history that may indicate likelihood of sex trafficking. In the patient room, EDRCs allow the patient to confidentially complete the brief survey asking about health and safety. The survey is administered on a tablet, which has been demonstrated to increase survey completion and response truthfulness.

Primary researcher: Allie Hurst, MD, MS, assistant professor, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine

Person-centered Outcome Measures for Alzheimer’s disease Patient Emergency Care Experiences

Background: Over 50% of the 6+ million people living with dementia in the U.S. visit an emergency department (ED) every year. Emergency departments are an important health resource for people living with dementia and their caregivers, but EDs can be a challenging environment for someone living with dementia. Visits to the ED have been found to produce distress among people living with dementia while overlooking care approaches that are responsive to their specific needs.

Aim: This study aims to produce a better understanding of what matters and what is most important to someone living with dementia during their encounter in the emergency department, as well as developing tools to evaluate those priorities.

Our services: EDRCs identify patients living with dementia and caregivers of people living with dementia, confirm eligibility for both patients and caregivers, assess evaluation to consent for people living with dementia, and conduct the consent process. Depending on the preferences of the participant, the EDRC team will complete the interview in the ED, refer the patients and/or caregivers to the study team for immediate in-person interview, or collect the participant’s contact information for follow-up at a later time.

Primary researcher: Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi, PhD, RN, associate professor with tenure and associate vice chair of research, BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We share UW–Madison’s commitment to creating a community where every person feels welcome, valued, and able to succeed. We view diversity as a source of strength, creativity, and innovation and value the contributions of each person with respect for the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich our university and community.

Beyond this, we view diversity and equitable inclusion as inextricably linked to our goals as a team and research unit and understand the critical work of disrupting cycles of structural and systemic discrimination and exclusion to achieve these goals.