Quality of reporting of pilot and feasibility cluster randomised trials: a systematic review
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Objectives To systematically review the quality of reporting of pilot and feasibility of cluster randomised trials (CRTs). In particular, to assess (1) the number of pilot CRTs conducted between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2014, (2) whether objectives and methods are appropriate and (3) reporting quality. Methods We searched PubMed (2011–2014) for CRTs with ‘pilot’ or ‘feasibility’ in the title or abstract; that were assessing some element of feasibility and showing evidence the study was in preparation for a main effectiveness/efficacy trial. Quality assessment criteria were based on the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) extensions for pilot trials and CRTs. Results Eighteen pilot CRTs were identified. Forty-four per cent did not have feasibility as their primary objective, and many (50%) performed formal hypothesis testing for effectiveness/efficacy despite being underpowered. Most (83%) included ‘pilot’ or ‘feasibility’ in the title, and discussed implications for progression from the pilot to the future definitive trial (89%), but fewer reported reasons for the randomised pilot trial (39%), sample size rationale (44%) or progression criteria (17%). Most defined the cluster (100%), and number of clusters randomised (94%), but few reported how the cluster design affected sample size (17%), whether consent was sought from clusters (11%), or who enrolled clusters (17%). Conclusions That only 18 pilot CRTs were identified necessitates increased awareness of the importance of conducting and publishing pilot CRTs and improved reporting. Pilot CRTs should primarily be assessing feasibility, avoiding formal hypothesis testing for effectiveness/efficacy and reporting reasons for the pilot, sample size rationale and progression criteria, as well as enrolment of clusters, and how the cluster design affects design aspects. We recommend adherence to the CONSORT extensions for pilot trials and CRTs.
AuthorsCHAN, C; Leyrat, C; Eldridge, SM
- Population Health