OBJECTIVES: ImproveCareNow (ICN) is the largest pediatric learning health system in the nation and started as a quality improvement collaborative. To test the feasibility and validity of using ICN data for clinical research, we evaluated the effectiveness of anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNFalpha) agents in the management of pediatric Crohn disease (CD). METHODS: Data were collected in 35 pediatric gastroenterology practices (April 2007 to March 2012) and analyzed as a sequence of nonrandomized trials. Patients who had moderate to severe CD were classified as initiators or non-initiators of anti-TNFalpha therapy. Among 4130 patients who had pediatric CD, 603 were new users and 1211 were receiving anti-TNFalpha therapy on entry into ICN. RESULTS: During a 26-week follow-up period, rate ratios obtained from Cox proportional hazards models, adjusting for patient and disease characteristics and concurrent medications, were 1.53 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-1.96) for clinical remission and 1.74 (95% CI, 1.33-2.29) for corticosteroid-free remission. The rate ratio for corticosteroid-free remission was comparable to the estimate produced by the adult SONIC study, which was a randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of anti-TNFalpha therapy. The number needed to treat was 5.2 (95% CI, 3.4-11.1) for clinical remission and 5.0 (95% CI, 3.4-10.0) for corticosteroid-free remission. CONCLUSIONS: In routine pediatric gastroenterology practice settings, anti-TNFalpha therapy was effective at achieving clinical and corticosteroid-free remission for patients who had Crohn disease. Using data from the ICN learning health system for the purpose of observational research is feasible and produces valuable new knowledge.
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