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COVID-19 Pandemic Altered VTE Research Collaboration Patterns

April 9, 2024

May 2024

Leah Lawrence

Leah Lawrence is a freelance health writer and editor based in Delaware.

The COVID-19 pandemic had some interesting effects on the workings of the venous thromboembolism (VTE) research community, according to a study published as a research letter in Blood Vessels, Thrombosis & Hemostasis.

Faced with the unique demands of the pandemic, researchers shifted to more local research efforts; however, there was also an increase in the total number of research collaborations during the pandemic compared with before COVID-19.

“The COVID pandemic challenged us as a global research community in many ways, including how we communicated and collaborated,” said lead study researcher Leslie Skeith, MD, MHPE, of Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Canada. “In-person collaboration was disrupted, and there was also a time pressure to conduct research quickly to find answers on how to best prevent and treat VTE in COVID-19.”

Dr. Skeith and colleagues wanted to evaluate how the international VTE research community collaborated in the early days of the pandemic and how that differed from before the pandemic. They distributed an online survey to members of two VTE research networks — CanVECTOR and INVENT — between June 16 and 25, 2020, and on X (formerly known as Twitter).

They used social network analysis that tracked research collaboration during the early COVID-19 pandemic and compared it to non-COVID-19 research collaboration in the past two years. The survey questions focused on mapping out early research collaboration, such as developing research projects and getting feedback on study ideas and protocols.

Survey respondents comprised 49 mostly male (60%) and physician-researcher (74%) respondents based in 12 countries who reported 157 unique individuals as collaborators from 22 countries.

In the two years before the pandemic, about half (23/49) of respondents had led a VTE research project. At the time of the survey, about one-third (16/49) were leading COVID-19-related VTE studies; half of these (8/16) listed five or more collaborators, despite a tendency to be more local than projects that took place before the pandemic. In contrast, only six of 15 working on non-COVID-19-related VTE research listed five or more collaborators.

Only a small percentage of the research projects and protocols were developed using social media platforms. Instead, these projects were developed primarily through investigator group conference calls (77%).

Notably, the number of COVID-19-related collaborations was larger than the number of research collaborations in the two years before the pandemic (47% vs. 33%, respectively). The researchers also noted that international research collaboration, as measured by publications before and during COVID-19, was higher early in the pandemic.

Finally, it seemed that those who were projects leaders before the pandemic remained so during the pandemic. Half of the researchers who were leading COVID-19-related VTE projects had led non-COVID-19-related VTE projects during the prior two years.

“While not part of our study, we saw more organized research collaboration efforts later in the pandemic that successfully combined clinical trials and results,” Dr. Skeith said. “While this study was a snapshot of early collaboration and was hypothesis generating, this highlights our future potential as a research community to collaborate internationally. How best and what methods or platforms to use to collaborate internationally still deserves further study.”

According to Dr. Skeith, the study findings are limited by the small number of researchers who make up the international VTE research community. Also, because the survey was distributed early in the pandemic, it is unknown how these research collaborations changed over time.

Any conflicts of interest declared by the authors can be found in the original article.


Karsanji D, King JA, Godley J, et al. Evaluating research collaboration networks among venous thromboembolism researchers before and during the COVID pandemic. Blood Vessels, Thrombosis & Hemostasis. 2024;1(1):100004.



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