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VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP)

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Quality Statement

 
The Cooperative Studies Program Epidemiologic Centers (CSPECs) Quality Statement demonstrates our commitment to maintaining the highest standard of quality regarding participant safety, scientific output as it relates specifically to data quality, and general efficiency of the program.  

This Quality Statement also serves to emphasize — to all CSPEC staff — the importance of quality, as well as the concept of ownership and involvement of all in the process.  The CSPECs have also committed resources to maintaining the highest quality standard, including key roles specifically dedicated to address quality within the program. 

Scope

The scope of this document is limited to center activities at the network of CSPECs. 

Priority areas for quality improvement

The CSPECs have three quality improvement priority areas:

  1. Participant safety and privacy safeguards
  2. Data quality
  3. Efficiency in conducting research and related administrative tasks

These are the quality resources for each priority area:

Participant Safety and Privacy Safeguards: The CSPECs comply with robust VA and CSP requirements, including but not limited to:

  • Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (“Common Rule”)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996
  • Oversight by Institutional Review Boards with Federal Wide Assurances
  • VHA Handbook 1200.05: Requirements for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research
  • CSP Global Standard Operating Procedures

The current listing of VA, CSP, and CSPEC Policy and Guiding Documents is available on the Research Resource Guide, a VA SharePoint site behind the VA firewall.

Data quality: For VHA administrative data, five domains will impact data quality, reproducibility, and replicability:

  • Data validity at time of collection
  • Accurate storage and retrieval of data from source
  • Version control of both programs and datasets created (including creation of appropriate documentation)
  • Implementation of data standards regarding field and file naming conventions
  • Use of well-thought-out criteria in all communications with data providers (VINCI, DOD, NDI, etc.)

To address these data quality domains, the CSPECs collaborate through CSP domain and subdomains activities, as well as implementing standards and processes at individual centers.

Efficiency in conducting research: To address efficiency and reduce variability in research practices, the CSPECs employ:

  • Research Resource Guide (RRG): This intranet site serves as a clearinghouse of cross-referenced resources and consolidated information that is centralized and easily searchable.  The RRG provides consistent guidance to improve efficiency, compliance, participant safety, and the overall quality of CSPEC research. Individual CSPECs employ other efficiency activities, including training staff Lean principals, developing best practices and work instructions, and conducting internal audits.

  • Lean: This process management philosophy, that aims to improve quality by identifying and eliminating waste, is being integrated into CSPEC activities. An ongoing list of completed Lean training is available on the CSP All-Staff SharePoint site.

  • CSP VA Pulse: As a website used to access VA resources and the expertise of other VA staff, VA Pulse provides a platform to efficiently share information, discuss best practices, and seek guidance on a broad range of topics.

In addition to using existing robust VA and CSP policies and procedures, the CSPECs employ supplementary methods in the three priority areas. An ongoing listing of such quality activities is available on the CSP All-Staff SharePoint site behind the VA firewall. 

Commitment to continuous improvement

Commitment to continuous quality improvement is a fundamental objective of the CSPECs. As an additional step in the quality process, the CSPECs will continue to assess vulnerabilities through internal center audits, Lean improvement events, continued training, and biennial checks with staff to assess where gaps may exist, and where other opportunities exist for quality improvement. 

Implementation

This document is implemented by the CSPECs, and the CSPEC Quality Research Specialists are responsible for maintaining conformance. The quality activities outlined in this statement supplement, but do not supersede, applicable VA and CSP requirements or any other federal regulations.



The Quality Statement was approved by the CSPEC Directors and is limited to those services related to CSPEC activities.  It's reviewed by the CSPEC Directors in the first quarter of each fiscal year.