Aberdeen Researchers develop improved trial design tool: PRECIS-2

Professor Shaun Treweek and Kirsty Loudon of HSRU at the University of Aberdeen, together with colleagues in Dundee and Canada have devised a new easy-to-use tool which helps trial designers at every stage of the design process to ensure they are making design choices that match the information needs of the people they are designing the trial for: patients and health professionals.

“The PRECIS-2 tool helps trial teams work through key questions in a very explicit way,” says Professor Treweek. “At the end – the data you input produces an image. If your decisions are consistent, it looks like a ‘wheel’. A wheel with kinks and bumps means your decisions have been inconsistent and you might need a rethink. A large wheel means you’ve designed a trial that is likely to be highly relevant to real world practice. A small wheel means you’ve designed a tightly controlled experiment which may be useful in the future but is unlikely to resonate with people in the real world. It’s a great way of identifying potential flaws in the design of a trial before any real money, time and effort has been spent on the trial itself. “  Shaun and Kirsty talk more about the PRECIS-2 tool in a short video that can be found on the BMJ home page:  http://www.bmj.com/thebmj

PRECIS-2 is an update of a tool the team devised in 2009, which was highly cited and was noted as a ‘useful paper’ by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Randomised Trials Coordination site  (http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/resources/trials-coordination).  The new tool is expected to receive similar attention and is currently being used within a pilot scheme to assess grant proposals in the US by the National Institute for Health to see whether the trials being proposed are likely to be useful to patients, health professionals and policymakers.

A permanent link to the video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj7cNCyvHVE

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