Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, globally responsible for approximately 11 % of total deaths. Patient outcome is very poor – a third of stroke patients die, a third sustain long-term disability and only a third recover fully. Therefore, it is understandable that there is a constant drive to improve diagnostics, treatment and prevention of stroke. Collaboration between stroke centres is essential in order to obtain independent evidence-based data that can lead to improved healthcare.
The Czech Stroke Research Network (STROCZECH) was established in 2020. Its main aim is to affiliate clinical centres in the Czech Republic with the Czech Clinical Research Infrastructure (CZECRIN) to facilitate the implementation of non-commercial multicentre clinical trials in order to gain medical changing research results.
Currently, STROCZECH interconnects 24 comprehensive cerebrovascular and stroke centres. Four components manage its performance: the coordination of all network activities is controlled by the Executive Management Team; the Scientific Board evaluates research questions, and the implementation of studies in the centres is the responsibility of members of the Executive Committee and Study Nurses/Coordinators.
The infrastructure conducts many types of clinical research. Some clinical studies are retrospective, whilst others are either prospective observational or interventional, and may be either randomised or non-randomised. Investigators initiate their own projects as well as participating in international clinical studies. To this date, STROCZECH has been involved in 22 academic clinical projects.
The Network provides a range of support from the preparation of new clinical projects and the start-up phase through the implementation to the completion of the study and fulfilment of outputs. The main objective of the participating centres is to improve the quality of life for stroke patients by developing evidence-based clinical practice as determined by the results obtained from the studies.
After two years of its existence, STROCZECH represents a functional infrastructure enabling independent evidence-based data collection, which subsequently optimises stroke prevention, diagnostics and care in the Czech Republic. The methodology of establishing this type of association could be of great benefit to other countries, not only in stroke research, but in other health areas as well.