Design, planning and implementation lessons learnt from a surgical multi-centre randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

Background: Increasingly, pragmatic randomised controlled trials are being used to evaluate surgical interventions, although they present particular difficulties in regards to recruitment and retention. Methods: Procedures and processes related to implementation of a multi-centre pragmatic surgical randomised controlled trial are discussed. In this surgical trial, forecasting of consent rates based on similar trials and micro-costing of study activities with research partners were undertaken and a video was produced targeting recruiting staff with the aim of aiding recruitment. The baseline assessments were reviewed to ensure the timing did not impact on the outcome. Attrition due to procedure waiting time was monitored and data were triangulated for the primary outcome to ensure adequate follow-up data. Results: Forecasting and costing ensured that the recruitment window was of adequate length and adequate resource was available for study procedures at multiple clinics in each hospital. Recruiting staff found the recruitment video useful. The comparison of patient-reported data collected prior to randomisation and prior to treatment provided confidence in the baseline data. Knowledge of participant dropout due to delays in treatment meant we were able to increase the recruitment target in a timely fashion, and along with the triangulation of data sources, this ensured adequate follow-up of randomised participants. Conclusions: This paper provides a range of evidence-based and experience-based approaches which, collectively, resulted in meeting our study objectives and from which lessons may be transferable. Trial registration: ISRCTN, ISRCTN41394716. Registered on 10 May 2012. UKCRN Study ID: 12486.

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Biggs, K., Hind, D., Bradburn, M., Swaby, L., & Brown, S. (2019). Design, planning and implementation lessons learnt from a surgical multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Trials, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-3649-0

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