With the movement in the USA towards Evidence-Based Health Care, I am establishing a Light Therapy Research Network (LTRN) as a research program that collects and analyzes data on light therapy practice as well as a variety of light therapy service delivery issues.
LTRN seeks to support the light therapists in their practices and to expand the research knowledge base about light therapy and the practice of light therapy.
• To develop a network of clinicians who agree to collaborate to collect and report data that will meet the dual agenda of evidence-based practice (EBP) and practice-based evidence (PBE).
• To utilize data gathered in “real world’ practice settings rather than specifically orchestrated clinical trials. This will permit large, clinically representative, datasets to be used by the members to improve outcomes for their clients. With sufficiently large databases we can utilize data mining to discover and explore aspects of light therapy we may not have previously considered.
• To improve prevention and treatment outcomes for individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities through practice-based research.
• To develop current knowledge about the scope and effectiveness of light therapy practice by participating members.
• To utilize data gathered to assist the light therapists to improve and expand their skills and their practices.
• To generate practice-relevant information for planning future service delivery, policy, research, and financing decisions pertinent to light therapy practice.
LTRN procedures are designed to protect the confidentiality of participating light therapists and their clients. All data will be encrypted and HIPPA compliant. All databases will be password protected so only the therapist generating the data will have access to their original individual client records. Individual therapists will have total control of their own data and may use it at their discretion.
A copy of the data that has been de-indentified and rendered anonymous by using algorithms it will be entered into a master database where it can be queried for future research projects. Any therapist contributing data will be able to submit requests for datasets to use in their research projects. No data from this database can be ever be matched to any individual client and all data in this database will only be analyzed at the aggregate level.
In my research I have developed and adopted tests/questionnaires that I use as pre and post treatment measures. Several of them I administer at each session which permits me to observe the client’s responses over the course of treatment. These are computer administered and scored and recorded in databases via the internet. By adopting and using the same measures for the clients response to treatment interventions therapists can begin to compare outcomes of the different therapeutic interventions. Participating therapists will have access to these and can incorporate them in their practices if they desire. They can also recommend that other measures to be included and made available to other therapists.
Once the LTRN is operational we will also establish a list serve where members can ask colleagues questions regarding light features, treatment questions, share experiences, etc. This will also help you make referrals when you have a client that is leaving your area and wishes to continue with the light sessions.
The features and services are limited to members but there is no cost to participate in this program or for the use of the data for research projects.
Benefits of Participating in the LTRN
• Participate in research without intrusive and time-consuming administrative protocols
• Preserve commitment to quality light therapy practice
• Advance the field of knowledge on practice issues of critical importance to therapists, clients, and policy makers about the light therapy profession
• Receive regular communication about the latest findings
• Network with other LTRN participants via the web site
Acknowledgment: In the development my research, one of the main goals from the beginning was the establishment of a practice based research program that would be used to gather data in “real world’ practice settings that could be used to improve and promote the practice of light therapy. The National Association of Social Workers also recognized the need of such a program for their members and developed the Practice Research Network (PRN) which was operational before the LTRN was envisioned. In developing the LTRN I have adopted their idea and I have adapted it to the field of light therapy. So while LTRN shares similar purposes and goals with the PRN system, LTRN will collect different measures and our methods of collecting data differ. I am grateful that the National Association of Social Workers recognized the need for a Practice Research Network and took the steps to establish one. I hope other professional groups will follow their lead and will gather data that can be used to improve the health care we provide our clients.