2022 Publication Award Honors Research on the Quality of Peer Review During COVID-19
Ryan T. Hughes, MD, of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, is the 2022 ROI Publication Award Winner. The Radiation Oncology Institute selected Dr. Hughes based on his exceptional work as the lead author of the recent manuscript, “Virtual Radiation Oncology Peer Review is Associated With Decreased Engagement and Limited Case Discussion: Analysis of a Prospective Database Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The article was first published online by the International Journal of Radiation Oncology•Biology•Physics on April 27, 2022.
In this study, Dr. Hughes and his team investigated trends in radiation oncology peer review of treatment plans that resulted from changes in clinic operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors analyzed their prospectively maintained departmental database to examine the impact of holding in-person vs. virtual peer review conferences and found that virtual peer review had a significantly lower rate of deviation detection and a lower rate of discussion. They raised concerns that virtual peer review is less rigorous because participants are less engaged, which could increase the chances of critical errors going unidentified. Dr. Hughes and his team acknowledged that virtual peer review has its benefits and is likely to continue and provided suggestions for how to improve the process.
ROI is honoring Dr. Hughes and this manuscript with the 2022 Publication Award because the very timely topic highlights important concerns about the safety and quality of radiation therapy when peer review of treatment plans is conducted virtually rather than in person. Given that virtual peer review is likely to persist for many radiation oncology practices, this is a potentially critical safety issue that requires additional attention and merits further investigation. Dr. Hughes’ research provides new insights that have the potential to change practice by ensuring that the rigorous peer review that distinguishes radiation oncology from other disciplines continues to meet high standards of quality assurance and patient safety whether it is conducted in person or virtually.
Chad Tang, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is being recognized by ROI with an Honorable Mention for his important contribution to the growing body of research demonstrating the value of radiation therapy for patients with oligometastatic cancers. Dr. Tang is the lead author of the manuscript, “Definitive Radiotherapy in Lieu of Systemic Therapy for Oligometastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: A Single-arm, Single-centre, Feasibility, Phase 2 Trial,” that was published online in The Lancet Oncology on October 27, 2021. This study was the first publication to investigate the use of radiotherapy alone for the treatment of oligometastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) as a definitive treatment strategy without systemic therapy. This is notable because RCC is historically considered to be extremely radiation resistant and the current standard of care for metastatic disease is costly and toxic systemic treatment.
Through the annual Publication Award, ROI honors early career investigators for excellence in the ROI’s priority research areas. Nominators submitted many impactful and compelling manuscripts to be considered for the 2022 Publication Award, and ROI is pleased to see so many engaged in research that will heighten the critical role of radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer. Join ROI in celebrating Dr. Hughes and Dr. Tang for their outstanding research that is advancing radiation oncology and improving outcomes for patients with cancer!