Randomized controlled trials play a central role in evidence-based practice, but recruitment of participants, and retention of them once in the trial, is challenging. Moreover, there is a dearth of evidence that research teams can use to inform the development of their recruitment and retention strategies. As with other healthcare initiatives, the fairest test of the effectiveness of a recruitment strategy is a trial comparing alternatives, which for recruitment would mean embedding a recruitment trial within an ongoing host trial. Systematic reviews indicate that such studies are rare. Embedded trials are largely delivered in an ad hoc way, with interventions almost always developed in isolation and tested in the context of a single host trial, limiting their ability to contribute to a body of evidence with regard to a single recruitment intervention and to researchers working in different contexts.
The Systematic Techniques for Assisting Recruitment to Trials (START) program is funded by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MRC) Methodology Research Programme to support the routine adoption of embedded trials to test standardized recruitment interventions across ongoing host trials. To achieve this aim, the program involves three interrelated work packages: (1) methodology - to develop guidelines for the design, analysis and reporting of embedded recruitment studies; (2) interventions - to develop effective and useful recruitment interventions; and (3) implementation - to recruit host trials and test interventions through embedded studies.
Successful completion of the START program will provide a model for a platform for the wider trials community to use to evaluate recruitment interventions or, potentially, other types of intervention linked to trial conduct. It will also increase the evidence base for two types of recruitment intervention.
The START protocol covers the methodology for embedded trials. Each embedded trial is registered separately or as a substudy of the host trial.
Randomized controlled trial; Recruitment; Primary care; Community; Trial participation; Intervention; Multimedia; Decision support systems; Protocols; Participant information
The effectiveness of intermittent montelukast for wheeze in young children is unclear. We aimed to assess whether intermittent montelukast is better than placebo for treatment of wheeze in this age group. Because copy numbers of the Sp1-binding motif in the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) gene promoter (either 5/5, 5/x, or x/x, where x does not equal 5) modifies response to montelukast in adults, we stratified by this genotype.
We did this multicentre, parallel-group, randomised, placebo-controlled trial between Oct 1, 2010, and Dec 20, 2013, at 21 primary care sites and 41 secondary care sites in England and Scotland. Children aged 10 months to 5 years with two or more wheeze episodes were allocated to either a 5/5 or 5/x+x/x ALOX5 promoter genotype stratum, then randomly assigned (1:1) via a permuted block schedule (size ten), to receive intermittent montelukast or placebo given by parents at each wheeze episode over a 12 month period. Clinical investigators and parents were masked to treatment group and genotype strata. The primary outcome was number of unscheduled medical attendances for wheezing episodes. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01142505.
We randomly assigned 1358 children to receive montelukast (n=669) or placebo (n=677). Consent was withdrawn for 12 (1%) children. Primary outcome data were available for 1308 (96%) children. There was no difference in unscheduled medical attendances for wheezing episodes between children in the montelukast and placebo groups (mean 2·0 [SD 2·6] vs 2·3 [2·7]; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0·88, 95% CI: 0·77–1·01; p=0·06). Compared with placebo, unscheduled medical attendances for wheezing episodes were reduced in children given montelukast in the 5/5 stratum (2·0 [2·7] vs 2·4 [3·0]; IRR 0·80, 95% CI 0·68–0·95; p=0·01), but not in those in the 5/x+x/x stratum (2·0 [2·5] vs 2·0 [2·3]; 1·03, 0·83–1·29; p=0·79, pinteraction=0·08). We recorded one serious adverse event, which was a skin reaction in a child allocated to placebo.
Our findings show no clear benefit of intermittent montelukast in young children with wheeze. However, the 5/5 ALOX5 promoter genotype might identify a montelukast-responsive subgroup.
Medical Research Council (UK) and National Institute for Health Research.
Vitamin D was used to treat tuberculosis in the pre-antibiotic era, and its metabolites induce antimycobacterial immunity in vitro. Clinical trials investigating the effect of adjunctive vitamin D on sputum culture conversion are lacking.
We conducted a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of adjunctive vitamin D in adults with sputum smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis in London, UK. 146 participants were allocated to receive 2.5 mg vitamin D3 or placebo at baseline and at 2, 4 and 6 weeks after starting standard tuberculosis treatment. The primary endpoint of the trial was time from initiation of antimicrobial therapy to sputum culture conversion. Participants were genotyped for TaqI and FokI polymorphisms of the vitamin D receptor (VDR), and interaction analyses were conducted to determine the influence of VDR genotype on response to vitamin D. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00419068).
126 participants were included in the primary efficacy analysis (62 allocated to intervention, 64 allocated to placebo). Median time to sputum culture conversion was 36.0 days in the intervention arm and 43.5 days in the placebo arm (adjusted HR 1.39; 95% CI 0.90-2.16, P=0.14). TaqI genotype modified the effect of vitamin D supplementation on time to sputum culture conversion (Pinteraction=0.03), with enhanced response seen only in participants with the tt genotype (HR 8.09, 95% CI 1.36-48.01, P=0.02). FokI genotype did not modify the effect of vitamin D supplementation (Pinteraction=0.85). Mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D at 8 weeks was 101.4 nmol/L vs. 22.8 nmol/L in intervention vs. placebo arms (95% CI for difference 68.6-88.2 nmol/L, P<0.001).
Administration of four doses of 2.5 mg vitamin D3 elevated serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in patients receiving intensive phase treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis and reduced time to sputum culture conversion in participants with the tt genotype of the TaqI VDR polymorphism.
Proxy measures are an alternative source of data for care home residents who are unable to complete the health utility measure, but the agreement levels between residents and care home staff for the EQ-5D have not been investigated previously. The objective of the present study was to examine the inter-rater agreement levels for the reporting of EQ-5D by care home residents and staff, adjusting for the impact of clustering.
Study Design and Setting
The data consist of EQ-5D scores for 565 pairs of care home residents and proxies and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) for 248 pairs. Cluster-adjusted agreement was compared for the domains, index scores, and QALYs from the EQ-5D. Factors influencing index score agreement are also described.
The results show poor to fair agreement at the domain level (cluster-adjusted Kappa −0.03 to 0.26) and moderate agreement at the score level (cluster-adjusted intra-class correlation coefficient [ICC] 0.44–0.50) and for QALYs (cluster-adjusted ICC 0.59). A higher likelihood of depression and lower cognitive impairment were both associated with smaller discrepancy between proxy and self-completed scores.
Proxies appear to be an acceptable source of data for index scores and QALYs but may be less reliable if individual domains are considered.
EQ-5D; Proxy-rated health; Self-rated health; Health-related quality of life; Care homes; Agreement
Getting the results of research implemented into routine healthcare is often a challenge. The disconnect between the development and implementation of evidence into practice is called the ‘second translational gap’ and is particularly apparent in primary care. To address this gap, we plan to identify, summarise and synthesise currently available evidence by undertaking a systematic review of reviews to: (1) explore barriers and facilitators of implementation of research evidence or complex interventions, and (2) assess the effectiveness of strategies in facilitating implementation of complex interventions in primary care.
Methods and analysis
This is a protocol for a systematic review of reviews. We will search MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL and PsycINFO up until December 2013. We will check reference lists of included studies for further studies. Two authors will independently screen the titles and abstracts identified from the search; any discrepancies will be resolved by discussion and consensus. Full-text papers will be obtained and relevant reviews will be selected against inclusion criteria. Eligible reviews have to be based on predominantly primary care in developed countries and examine either factors to implementation or, the effectiveness of strategies to optimise implementation. Data from eligible reviews will be extracted using standardised data abstraction forms. For barriers and facilitators, data will be synthesised using an interpretative meta-synthesis approach. For implementation strategies, findings will be summarised and described narratively and synthesised using a framework approach. All findings will be reported in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval is not required. The review findings will inform the work of the design and implementation of future studies and will be of interest to a wide audience including health professionals, researchers, health service or commissioning managers and policymakers.
Trial registration number
Protocol registration number (PROSPERO CRD42014009410).
Primary Care; Public Health
Low back pain (LBP) is a common and costly problem that many interpret within a biopsychosocial model. There is renewed concern that core-sets of outcome measures do not capture what is important. To inform debate about the coverage of back pain outcome measure core-sets, and to suggest areas worthy of exploration within healthcare consultations, we have synthesised the qualitative literature on the impact of low back pain on people’s lives.
Two reviewers searched CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO, PEDro, and Medline, identifying qualitative studies of people’s experiences of non-specific LBP. Abstracted data were thematic coded and synthesised using a meta-ethnographic, and a meta-narrative approach.
We included 49 papers describing 42 studies. Patients are concerned with engagement in meaningful activities; but they also want to be believed and have their experiences and identity, as someone ‘doing battle’ with pain, validated. Patients seek diagnosis, treatment, and cure, but also reassurance of the absence of pathology. Some struggle to meet social expectations and obligations. When these are achieved, the credibility of their pain/disability claims can be jeopardised. Others withdraw, fearful of disapproval, or unable or unwilling to accommodate social demands. Patients generally seek to regain their pre-pain levels of health, and physical and emotional stability. After time, this can be perceived to become unrealistic and some adjust their expectations accordingly.
The social component of the biopsychosocial model is not well represented in current core-sets of outcome measures. Clinicians should appreciate that the broader impact of low back pain includes social factors; this may be crucial to improving patients’ experiences of health care. Researchers should consider social factors to help develop a portfolio of more relevant outcome measures.
Outcome measurement; Outcome measure development; Low back pain; Qualitative synthesis; Social factors; Population-based interventions
The Coping with Persistent Pain, Effectiveness Research into Self-management (COPERS) trial assessed whether a group-based self-management course is effective in reducing pain-related disability in participants with chronic musculoskeletal pain. This article describes the statistical analysis plan for the COPERS trial.
Methods and design
COPERS was a pragmatic, multicentre, unmasked, parallel group, randomised controlled trial. This article describes (a) the overall analysis principles (including which participants will be included in each analysis, how results will be presented, which covariates will be adjusted for, and how we will account for clustering in the intervention group); (b) the primary and secondary outcomes, and how each outcome will be analysed; (c) sensitivity analyses; (d) subgroup analyses; and (e) adherence-adjusted analyses.
Statistical analysis plan; Randomised controlled trial; Self-management; Chronic musculoskeletal pain; Complex intervention
Objective To test whether offering financial incentives to patients with psychotic disorders is effective in improving adherence to maintenance treatment with antipsychotics.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting Community mental health teams in secondary psychiatric care in the United Kingdom.
Participants Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder, who were prescribed long acting antipsychotic (depot) injections but had received 75% or less of the prescribed injections. We randomly allocated 73 teams with a total of 141 patients. Primary outcome data were available for 35 intervention teams with 75 patients (96% of randomised) and for 31 control teams with 56 patients (89% of randomised).
Interventions Participants in the intervention group were offered £15 (€17; $22) for each depot injection over a 12 month period. Participants in the control condition received treatment as usual.
Main outcome measure The primary outcome was the percentage of prescribed depot injections given during the 12 month intervention period.
Results 73 teams with 141 consenting patients were randomised, and outcomes were assessed for 131 patients (93%). Average baseline adherence was 69% in the intervention group and 67% in the control group. During the 12 month trial period adherence was 85% in the intervention group and 71% in the control group. The adjusted effect estimate was 11.5% (95% confidence interval 3.9% to 19.0%, P=0.003). A secondary outcome was an adherence of ≥95%, which was achieved in 28% of the intervention group and 5% of the control group (adjusted odds ratio 8.21, 95% confidence interval 2.00 to 33.67, P=0.003). Although differences in clinician rated clinical improvement between the groups failed to reach statistical significance, patients in the intervention group had more favourable subjective quality of life ratings (β=0.71, 95% confidence interval 0.26 to 1.15, P=0.002). The number of admissions to hospital and adverse events were low in both groups and did not show substantial differences.
Conclusion Offering modest financial incentives to patients with psychotic disorders is an effective method for improving adherence to maintenance treatment with antipsychotics.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN77769281.
Previous reviews of cluster randomised trials have been critical of the quality of the trials reviewed, but none has explored determinants of the quality of these trials in a specific field over an extended period of time. Recent work suggests that correct conduct and reporting of these trials may require more than published guidelines. In this review, our aim was to assess the quality of cluster randomised trials conducted in residential facilities for older people, and to determine whether (1) statistician involvement in the trial and (2) strength of journal endorsement of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement influence quality.
We systematically identified trials randomising residential facilities for older people, or parts thereof, without language restrictions, up to the end of 2010, using National Library of Medicine (Medline) via PubMed and hand-searching. We based quality assessment criteria largely on the extended CONSORT statement for cluster randomised trials. We assessed statistician involvement based on statistician co-authorship, and strength of journal endorsement of the CONSORT statement from journal websites.
73 trials met our inclusion criteria. Of these, 20 (27%) reported accounting for clustering in sample size calculations and 54 (74%) in the analyses. In 29 trials (40%), methods used to identify/recruit participants were judged by us to have potentially caused bias or reporting was unclear to reach a conclusion. Some elements of quality improved over time but this appeared not to be related to the publication of the extended CONSORT statement for these trials. Trials with statistician/epidemiologist co-authors were more likely to account for clustering in sample size calculations (unadjusted odds ratio 5.4, 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 26.0) and analyses (unadjusted OR 3.2, 1.2 to 8.5). Journal endorsement of the CONSORT statement was not associated with trial quality.
Despite international attempts to improve methods in cluster randomised trials, important quality limitations remain amongst these trials in residential facilities. Statistician involvement on trial teams may be more effective in promoting quality than further journal endorsement of the CONSORT statement. Funding bodies and journals should promote statistician involvement and co-authorship in addition to adherence to CONSORT guidelines.
Residential facilities; Older people; Cluster randomised trials
Better self management could improve quality of life (QoL) and reduce hospital admissions in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but the best way to promote it remains unclear.
To explore the feasibility, effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a novel, layperson-led, theoretically driven COPD self-management support programme.
Design and setting
Pilot randomised controlled trial in one UK primary care trust area.
Patients with moderate to severe COPD were identified through primary care and randomised 2:1 to the 7-week-long, group intervention or usual care. Outcomes at baseline, 2, and 6 months included self-reported health, St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), EuroQol, and exercise.
Forty-four per cent responded to GP invitation, 116 were randomised: mean (standard deviation [SD]) age 69.5 (9.8) years, 46% male, 78% had unscheduled COPD care in the previous year. Forty per cent of intervention patients completed the course; 35% attended no sessions; and 78% participants completed the 6-month follow-up questionnaire. Results suggest that the intervention may increase both QoL (mean EQ-5D change 0.12 (95% confidence interval [CI] = –0.02 to 0.26) higher, intervention versus control) and exercise levels, but not SGRQ score. Economic analyses suggested that with thresholds of £20 000 per quality-adjusted life-year gained, the intervention is likely to be cost-effective.
This intervention has good potential to meet the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence criteria for cost effectiveness, and further research is warranted. However, to make a substantial impact on COPD self-management, it will also be necessary to explore other ways to enable patients to access self-management education.
pilot projects; pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; randomised controlled trial; self-care; self-management; patient education as topic; primary health care
Domestic violence affects one in four women and has significant health consequences. Women experiencing abuse identify doctors and other health professionals as potential sources of support. Primary care clinicians agree that domestic violence is a healthcare issue but have been reluctant to ask women if they are experiencing abuse.
To measure selected UK primary care clinicians’ current levels of knowledge, attitudes, and clinical skills in this area.
Design and setting
Prospective observational cohort in 48 general practices from Hackney in London and Bristol, UK.
Administration of the Physician Readiness to Manage Intimate Partner Violence Survey (PREMIS), comprising five sections: responder profile, background (perceived preparation and knowledge), actual knowledge, opinions, and practice issues.
Two hundred and seventy-two (59%) clinicians responded. Minimal previous domestic violence training was reported by participants. Clinicians only had basic knowledge about domestic violence but expressed a positive attitude towards engaging with women experiencing abuse. Many clinicians felt poorly prepared to ask relevant questions about domestic violence or to make appropriate referrals if abuse was disclosed. Forty per cent of participants never or seldom asked about abuse when a woman presented with injuries. Eighty per cent said that they did not have an adequate knowledge of local domestic violence resources. GPs were better prepared and more knowledgeable than practice nurses; they also identified a higher number of domestic violence cases.
Primary care clinicians’ attitudes towards women experiencing domestic violence are generally positive but they only have basic knowledge of the area. Both GPs and practice nurses need more comprehensive training on assessment and intervention, including the availability of local domestic violence services.
cross-sectional studies; domestic violence; primary health care; women
Forensic mental health services have largely ignored examining patients’ views on the nature of the services offered to them. A structured communication approach (DIALOG) has been developed with the aim of placing the patient’s perspective on their care at the heart of the discussions between patients and clinicians. The effectiveness of the structured communication approach in community mental health services has been demonstrated, but no trial has taken place in a secure psychiatric setting. This pilot study is evaluating a 6-month intervention combining DIALOG with principles of solution-focused therapy on quality of life in medium-secure settings.
Methods and design
A cluster randomized controlled trial design is being employed to conduct a 36-month pilot study. Participants are recruited from six medium-secure inpatient services, with 48 patients in the intervention group and 48 in the control group. The intervention uses a structured communication approach. It comprises six meetings between patient and nurse held monthly over a 6-month period. During each meeting, patients rate their satisfaction with a range of life and treatment domains with responses displayed on a tablet. The rating is followed by a discussion of how to improve the current situation in those domains identified by the patient. Assessments take place prior to the intervention (baseline), at 6 months (postintervention) and at 12 months (follow-up). The primary outcome is the patient’s self-reported quality of life.
This study aims to (1) establish the feasibility of the trial design as the basis for determining the viability of a large full-scale trial, (2) determine the variability of the outcomes of interest (quality of life, levels of satisfaction, disturbance, ward climate and engagement with services), (3) estimate the costs of the intervention and (4) refine the intervention following the outcome of the study based upon the experiences of the nurses and patients. The intervention allows patients to have a greater say in how they are treated and targets care in areas that patients identify as important to them. It is intended to establish systems that support meaningful patient and caregiver involvement and participation.
Current Controlled Trials,
Comquol; DIALOG; Forensic; Mental health; Quality of life; Solution-focused brief therapy
To assess the quality of reported consent processes of cluster-randomised trials conducted in residential facilities for older people and to explore whether the focus on improving the general conduct and reporting of cluster-randomised trials influenced the quality of conduct and reporting of ethical processes in these trials.
Systematic review of cluster-randomised trials reports, published up to the end of 2010.
National Library of Medicine (Medline) via PubMed, hand-searches of BMJ, Journal of the American Medical Association, BMC Health Services Research, Age and Ageing and Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, reference search in Web of Knowledge and consultation with experts.
Eligibility for selecting studies
Published cluster-randomised trials where the unit of randomisation is a part or the whole of a residential facility for older people, without language or year of publication restrictions.
We included 73 trials. Authors reported ethical approval in 59, obtaining individual consent in 51, and using proxies for this consent in 37, but the process to assess residents’ capacity to consent was clearly reported in only eight. We rated only six trials high for the quality of consent processes. We considered that individual informed consent could have been waived legitimately in 14 of 22 trials not reporting obtaining consent. The proportions reporting ethical approval and quality of consent processes were higher in recent trials.
Recently published international recommendations regarding ethical conduct in cluster-randomised trials are much needed. In relation to consent processes when cognitively impaired individuals are included in these trials, we provide a six-point checklist and recommend the minimum information to be reported. Those who lack capacity in trials with complex designs should be afforded the same care in relation to consent as competent adults in trials with simpler designs.
Medical ethics; Statistics & research methods; Geriatric medicine
Depression is common and is associated with poor outcomes among elderly care-home residents. Exercise is a promising low-risk intervention for depression in this population. We tested the hypothesis that a moderate intensity exercise programme would reduce the burden of depressive symptoms in residents of care homes.
We did a cluster-randomised controlled trial in care homes in two regions in England; northeast London, and Coventry and Warwickshire. Residents aged 65 years or older were eligible for inclusion. A statistician independent of the study randomised each home (1 to 1·5 ratio, stratified by location, minimised by type of home provider [local authority, voluntary, private and care home, private and nursing home] and size of home [<32 or ≥32 residents]) into intervention and control groups. The intervention package included depression awareness training for care-home staff, 45 min physiotherapist-led group exercise sessions for residents (delivered twice weekly), and a whole home component designed to encourage more physical activity in daily life. The control consisted of only the depression awareness training. Researchers collecting follow-up data from individual participants and the participants themselves were inevitably aware of home randomisation because of the physiotherapists' activities within the home. A researcher masked to study allocation coded NHS routine data. The primary outcome was number of depressive symptoms on the geriatric depression scale-15 (GDS-15). Follow-up was for 12 months. This trial is registered with ISRCTN Register, number ISRCTN43769277.
Care homes were randomised between Dec 15, 2008, and April 9, 2010. At randomisation, 891 individuals in 78 care homes (35 intervention, 43 control) had provided baseline data. We delivered 3191 group exercise sessions attended on average by five study participants and five non-study residents. Of residents with a GDS-15 score, 374 of 765 (49%) were depressed at baseline; 484 of 765 (63%) provided 12 month follow-up scores. Overall the GDS-15 score was 0·13 (95% CI −0·33 to 0·60) points higher (worse) at 12 months for the intervention group compared with the control group. Among residents depressed at baseline, GDS-15 score was 0·22 (95% CI −0·52 to 0·95) points higher at 6 months in the intervention group than in the control group. In an end of study cross-sectional analysis, including 132 additional residents joining after randomisation, the odds of being depressed were 0·76 (95% CI 0·53 to 1·09) for the intervention group compared with the control group.
This moderately intense exercise programme did not reduce depressive symptoms in residents of care homes. In this frail population, alternative strategies to manage psychological symptoms are required.
National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment.
The prevalence and impact of chronic pain differ between ethnic groups. We report a study of the comparative prevalence and impact of chronic pain in Bangladeshi, British Bangladeshi and White British/Irish people. We posted a short questionnaire to a random sample of 4,480 patients registered with 16 general practices in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and conducted a longer questionnaire with patients in the waiting areas at those practices. We distinguished between Bangladeshi participants who were born in the UK or had arrived in the UK at the age of 14 or under (British Bangladeshi) and those who arrived in UK at the age of over 14 (Bangladeshi). We obtained 1,223/4,480 (27 %) responses to the short survey and 600/637 (94 %) to the long survey. From the former, the prevalence of chronic pain in the White, British Bangladeshi and Bangladeshi groups was 55, 54 and 72 %, respectively. The corresponding figures from the long survey were 49, 45 and 70 %. Chronic widespread pain was commoner in the Bangladeshi (16 %) than in the White (10 %) or British Bangladeshi (9 %) groups. People with chronic pain experienced poorer quality of life (odds ratio for scoring best possible health vs. good health (or good vs. poor health) 5.6 (95 % confidence interval 3.4 to 9.8)), but we found no evidence of differences between ethnic groups in the impact of chronic pain on the quality of life. Chronic pain is commoner and, of greater severity, in Bangladeshis than in Whites. On most measures in this study, British Bangladeshis resembled the Whites more than the Bangladeshis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10067-013-2286-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Chronic pain; Comparative prevalence; Ethnicity; Quality of life
How outcomes of clinical trials are reported alters the way treatment effectiveness is perceived: clinicians interpret the outcomes of trials more favourably when results are presented in relative (such as risk ratio) rather than absolute terms (such as risk reduction). However, it is unclear which methods clinicians find easiest to interpret and use in decision making.
To explore which methods for reporting back pain trials clinicians find clearest and most interpretable and useful to decision making.
Design and setting
Indepth interviews with clinicians at clinical practices/research centre.
Clinicians were purposively sampled by professional discipline, sex, age, and practice setting. They were presented with several different summaries of the results of the same hypothetical trial. Each summary used a different reporting method, and the study explored participants' preferences for each method and how they would like to see future trials reported.
The 14 clinicians interviewed (comprising GPs, manual therapists, psychologists, a rheumatologist, and surgeons) stated that clinical trial reports were not written with them in mind. They were familiar with mean differences, proportion improved, and numbers needed to treat (NNT), but unfamiliar with standardised mean differences, odds ratios, and relative risks (RRs). They found the proportion improved, RR, and NNT most intuitively understandable, and thought reporting between-group mean differences, RRs, and odds ratios could mislead.
Clinicians stated that additional reporting methods facilitate the interpretation of trial results, and using a variety of methods would make results easier to interpret in context and incorporate into practice. Authors of future back pain trials should report data in a format that is accessible to clinicians.
back pain; data interpretation, statistical; outcome assessment (health care); primary care; qualitative research; randomised controlled trials; treatment outcome
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a common condition that often responds poorly to treatment. Self-management courses have been advocated as a non-drug pain management technique, although evidence for their effectiveness is equivocal. We designed and piloted a self-management course based on evidence for effectiveness for specific course components and characteristics.
COPERS (coping with persistent pain, effectiveness research into self-management) is a pragmatic randomised controlled trial testing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an intensive, group, cognitive behavioural-based, theoretically informed and manualised self-management course for chronic pain patients against a control of best usual care: a pain education booklet and a relaxation CD. The course lasts for 15 h, spread over 3 days, with a –2 h follow-up session 2 weeks later. We aim to recruit 685 participants with chronic musculoskeletal pain from primary, intermediate and secondary care services in two UK regions. The study is powered to show a standardised mean difference of 0.3 in the primary outcome, pain-related disability. Secondary outcomes include generic health-related quality of life, healthcare utilisation, pain self-efficacy, coping, depression, anxiety and social engagement. Outcomes are measured at 6 and 12 months postrandomisation. Pain self-efficacy is measured at 3 months to assess whether change mediates clinical effect.
Ethics approval was given by Cambridgeshire Ethics 11/EE/046. This trial will provide robust data on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an evidence-based, group self-management programme for chronic musculoskeletal pain. The published outcomes will help to inform future policy and practice around such self-management courses, both nationally and internationally.
Randomised Controlled Trial; Protocol; Chronic Pain; Self Management
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are frequently associated with poor long term outcomes. Established interventions have little, if any, positive effects on negative symptoms. Arts Therapies such as Body Psychotherapy (BPT) have been suggested to reduce negative symptoms, but the existing evidence is limited. In a small exploratory trial a manualised form of group BPT led to significantly lower negative symptom levels both at the end of treatment and at 4 months follow-up as compared to supportive counseling. We designed a large multi-site trial to assess the effectiveness of a manualised BPT intervention in reducing negative symptoms, compared to an active control.
In a randomised controlled trial, 256 schizophrenic outpatients with negative symptoms will be randomly allocated either to BPT or Pilates groups. In both conditions, patients will be offered two 90 minutes sessions per week in groups of about 8 patients over a period of 10 weeks. Outcomes are assessed at the end of treatment and at six months follow-up. The primary outcome is severity of negative symptoms, as measured by the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS), whilst a range of secondary outcome measures include general psychopathology, social contacts, and quality of life. We will also assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a promising form of group therapy which may help alleviate negative symptoms that are associated with unfavourable long-term outcomes and have so far been difficult to treat. If the trial is successful, it will add a new and effective option in the treatment of negative symptoms. Group BPT is manualised, might be attractive to many patients because of its unusual approach, and could potentially be rolled out to services at relatively little additional cost.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN84216587
Asthma has the potential to adversely affect children's school examination performance, and hence longer term life chances. Asthma morbidity is especially high amongst UK ethnic minority children and those experiencing social adversity, populations which also have poor educational outcomes. We tested the hypothesis that asthma adversely affects performance in national school examinations in a large cohort from an area of ethnic diversity and social deprivation.
Methods and Findings
With a novel method (using patient and address-matching algorithms) we linked administrative and clinical data for 2002–2005 for children in east London aged 5–14 years to contemporaneous education and social care datasets. We modelled children's performance in school examinations in relation to socio-demographic and clinical variables.
The dataset captured examination performance for 12,136 children who sat at least one national examination at Key Stages 1–3. For illustration, estimates are presented as percentage changes in Key Stage 2 results. Having asthma was associated with a 1.1% increase in examination scores (95%CI 0.4 to 1.7)%,p = 0.02. Worse scores were associated with Bangladeshi ethnicity −1.3%(−2.5 to −0.1)%,p = 0.03; special educational need −14.6%(−15.7 to −13.5)%,p = 0.02; mental health problems −2.5%(−4.1 to −0.9)%,p = 0.003, and social adversity: living in a smoking household −1.2(−1.7 to −0.6)%,p<0.001; living in social housing −0.8%(−1.3 to −0.2)% p = 0.01, and entitlement to free school meals −0.8%(−1.5 to −0.1)%,p<0.001.
Social adversity and ethnicity, but not asthma, are associated with poorer performance in national school examinations. Policies to improve educational attainment in socially deprived areas should focus on these factors.
Recent systematic reviews suggest that there is a dearth of evidence on the effectiveness of large-scale urban regeneration programmes in improving health and well-being and alleviating health inequalities. The development of the Olympic Park in Stratford for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides the opportunity to take advantage of a natural experiment to examine the impact of large-scale urban regeneration on the health and well-being of young people and their families.
Design and methods
A prospective school-based survey of adolescents (11–12 years) with parent data collected through face-to-face interviews at home. Adolescents will be recruited from six randomly selected schools in an area receiving large-scale urban regeneration (London Borough of Newham) and compared with adolescents in 18 schools in three comparison areas with no equivalent regeneration (London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Barking & Dagenham). Baseline data will be completed prior to the start of the London Olympics (July 2012) with follow-up at 6 and 18 months postintervention. Primary outcomes are: pre–post change in adolescent and parent mental health and well-being, physical activity and parental employment status. Secondary outcomes include: pre–post change in social cohesion, smoking, alcohol use, diet and body mass index. The study will account for individual and environmental contextual effects in evaluating changes to identified outcomes. A nested longitudinal qualitative study will explore families’ experiences of regeneration in order to unpack the process by which regeneration impacts on health and well-being.
Ethics and dissemination
The study has approval from Queen Mary University of London Ethics Committee (QMREC2011/40), the Association of Directors of Children's Services (RGE110927) and the London Boroughs Research Governance Framework (CERGF113). Fieldworkers have had advanced Criminal Records Bureau clearance. Findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications, national and international conferences, through participating schools and the study website (http://www.orielproject.co.uk).