An evaluation of risk-based monitoring in pragmatic trials in UK Clinical Trials Units

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Background: Good Clinical Practice guidelines issued in 2016 encourage risk-based approaches to monitoring clinical trials. This study compared current risk assessment and monitoring approaches in UK Clinical Trials Units (CTUs) with the published guidance and makes recommendations for risk-based monitoring in pragmatic trials. Methods: An online survey of UK Clinical Research Collaboration registered CTUs was administered via email invitation. Forty-nine units were invited, and 23 responded. Respondents were also invited to share copies of risk assessment templates. Results: Most CTUs reported using remote combined with on-site monitoring. All reported undertaking a risk assessment for Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (CTIMPs) and 21 units did so for non-CTIMPs. Most CTIMP risk assessments used MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) classifications, although some also employed staff judgement. Almost all units based their monitoring on perceived risk level; this number was higher for CTIMPs (n = 22) than for non-CTIMPs (n = 19). In most cases, monitoring plans were produced. More CTUs revisited risk assessments during trials in CTIMPs (n = 21) than in non-CTIMPs (n = 18). Small numbers of units reviewed the monitoring approach always (n = 4) or sometimes (n = 9) and few used the reflection to guide future monitoring. Conclusions: A high proportion of UK CTUs are using risk-based monitoring in the UK, as recommended by guidelines, for both CTIMPs and non-CTIMPs. This has the potential to make trials more efficient and reduce costs. However, there appears to be a lack of reflection on the value of these revised approaches. There may be a benefit in CTUs collaborating nationally to improve processes for reflection and making changes during the life course of a trial.




Beever, D., & Swaby, L. (2019). An evaluation of risk-based monitoring in pragmatic trials in UK Clinical Trials Units. Trials, 20(1).

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