Read our new paper on the acceptability and feasibility of conducting a pilot trial in primary care now published in HRB Open

8 Feb 2022

The paper outlines how we explored the acceptability and feasibility of the study procedures used in a cluster randomised pilot trial of an intervention in primary care to improve uptake of Ireland’s national diabetic retinopathy programme. 

Understanding primary care practices’ ‘readiness’ to engage in trials and their experience is important to inform trial procedures and supports. Few studies report on the feasibility of study procedures though this is a central part of pilot trials. 
As part of an embedded mixed-methods process evaluation, we collected quantitative and qualitative data across four general practices participating in the intervention. We conducted interviews with a purposive sample of primary care staff. Research logs on time spent on intervention delivery, staff assignment, resources, problems/changes, and reasons for drop-outs, were maintained over the course of intervention rollout, and practice audit data were analysed. 

Nine staff (3 GPs, 4 nurses, 2 administrators) were interviewed. We found that an interest in the topic area or in research motivated practices to take part in the trial. Reimbursement meant they could ‘ afford’ to participate. Staff valued the researcher briefing at the start of the trial, to avoid ‘ going in slightly blind’. While staff varied in audit skills and confidence, and some found this aspect of data collection challenging, a ‘ step-by-step’ audit manual and regular researcher contact, helped them stay on track and troubleshoot during data collection. Audit quality was acceptable overall, however there were some issues, incorrect assignment of patient status being most common.

You can read the full paper  here.

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