A group of researchers from the Health Services Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen, led by Professor Shaun Treweek, together with colleagues from around the UK are developing a new platform called Trial Forge that aims to improve the efficiency of randomised trials.
“Trials are essential but often inefficient and sometimes very much so” says Professor Treweek. “A trial team may, for example, run a beautifully conducted trial that answers a question no-one except the researchers are interested in, which is the ultimate in inefficiency when you consider the limited resources available.” Professor Marion Campbell divides trial efficiency into two categories - scientific and process. “Even if the research question is good, trials can be weighed down by inefficient processes such as excessive data collection. It’s like having a huge trailer attached to an agile sports car - unnecessary baggage a trial carries with it.” Shaun talks about the Trial Forge in a short video that can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_dTuhCFBxY&feature=youtu.be.
A paper reporting the discussions from the first Trial Forge meeting was recently published in Trials (http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/16/1/261/abstract). Although this meeting was UK-based, Trial Forge is global in scope: trialists around the world are facing many of the same issues. Other recent work that feeds into Trial Forge includes the PRECIS-2 trial design tool, which was led by Kirsty Loudon and recently published in the BMJ (http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2147). A video describing that tool is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj7cNCyvHVE.