Learn more about BOOST-3, a study at UNC Medical Center and over 40 sites across the United States.

What is BOOST-3?

BOOST-3 is a nationwide NIH research study to learn if either of two strategies for monitoring and treating patients with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the intensive care unit (ICU) is more likely to help them get better.

Both alternative strategies are used in standard care treatment of TBI.  It is unknown if one is more effective than the other.  In one strategy doctors concentrate only on preventing high ICP (intracranial pressure) caused by a swollen brain.  In the other strategy, doctors try to prevent high ICP AND try to prevent low PbtO2 (brain oxygen).

It is unknown if measuring and treating low brain oxygen is more effective, less effective, or the same as monitoring and treating high ICP alone.  The results of this study will help doctors discover if one of these methods is more safe and effective.

How is this clinical trial different from other clinical trials?

Normally, researchers get permission (consent) before a person can be included in a study.  A person with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) will not be able to give consent at the time of injury. Since TBI must be treated quickly, there might not be enough time to locate and talk to the person’s family or legal representative about the study.  The strategies being studied typically need to start within 2 to 10 hours of injury and are considered standard care.  When consent is not possible, a person might be enrolled in this study without consent.  This is called “Exception from Informed Consent” (EFIC).  Once the family or legal representative is located, they will be asked whether they want the participant to continue in the study.

More about EFIC

Exception from informed consent (EFIC) for emergency research refers to a special set of rules used by the US government to regulate studies when research participants cannot tell researchers their desires in a medical emergency.  These special rules allow research studies in certain emergency situations to be conducted without consent.

EFIC can only be used when:

  • the person's life is at risk, AND,
  • the best treatment is not known, AND
  • the study might help the person, AND
  • it is not possible to get permission:
    • from the person because of his or her medical condition, nor
    • from the person's representative because there is a very short amount of time required to treat the medical problem, or the representative is not available.

What is TBI?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is sudden damage to the brain caused by an outside force to the head – such as a car crash, a fall, or something hitting the head.  

  • Every 15 seconds someone in the US suffers a major TBI.
  • Every five minutes someone is forever disabled as a result of TBI.
  • TBI is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adults 1-44 years of age.

TBI can affect a person’s ability to think and remember things, cause problems with balance and coordination, prevent a person from functioning independently, cause permanent brain damage or even death. 

Who will be included?

  • People who are 14 years or older with a
  • Blunt closed head injury, with
  • Severe brain injury, and
  • Can start the study immediately following brain monitor placement.

People who meet the entry criteria will be randomly entered, like flipping a coin, into one of the two study groups:

  • Those that get medical care based on monitoring of pressure in the brain (intracranial pressure or ICP) alone.
  • Those who get medical care based on both ICP and the amount of oxygen in the brain (brain tissue oxygen or PbtO2).  

What are the benefits?

Because we do not know which treatment is best for treating TBI, a person enrolled in the study may benefit from being placed in one study group over the other.  Based on the information we get from this study, people who have a TBI in the future may benefit from what is learned from this study.

What are the risks?

The different treatment strategies may affect:

  • Risk of pneumonia or lung injury
  • Severe infection in the blood or brain

Brain probes may involve risks of bleeding or infection

Risks of participating in research include breaches of confidentiality.

What if I do not want to be included in the study?

If you decide you don’t want to be included in the event you suffer a future TBI, contact us to request an Opt Out medical alert bracelet be sent to you to wear with the words “BOOST3 declined”.  Wearing this medical alert bracelet at all times throughout the study period (about 5 years), is your way of communicating your wishes in case you suffer a severe TBI and are unconscious. If you do not participate in the study, you will receive the standard medical treatment provided for traumatic brain injuries at the hospital in your community.

Share your thoughts with the BOOST-3 team!

Before the study starts, meetings will be held in the community to provide information, answer questions, and get community members’ thoughts and feelings about the study.  You can call the study team to complete a one-on-one interview or complete a survey about the study by clicking the button below.  There will also be information about the study in the media (for example, newspapers, TV, and radio).

Contact Us

BOOST-3 Study Team

(919) 238-9281 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Copyright © 2013-2022 The NC TraCS Institute, the integrated home of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at UNC-CH.  This website is made possible by CTSA Grant UL1TR002489 and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.


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