The use of feasibility studies for stepped-wedge cluster randomised trials: a protocol for a review of impact and scope.
journal contributionposted on 04.07.2017, 10:25 by Caroline A. Kristunas, Karla Hemming, Helen C. Eborall, Laura J. Gray
Introduction: The stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial (SW-CRT) is a complex design, for which many decisions about key design parameters must be made during the planning. These include the number of steps and the duration of time needed to embed the intervention. Feasibility studies are likely to be useful for informing these decisions and increasing the likelihood of the main trial’s success. However, the number of feasibility studies being conducted for SW-CRTs is currently unknown. This review aims to establish the number of feasibility studies being conducted for SW-CRTs and determine which feasibility issues are commonly investigated. Methods and analysis: Fully published feasibility studies for SW-CRTs will be identified, according to pre-defined inclusion criteria, from searches conducted in Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. In order to also identify and gain information on unpublished feasibility studies the following will be contacted: authors of published SW-CRTs (identified from the most recent systematic reviews); contacts for registered SW-CRTs (identified from clinical trials registries); lead statisticians of UK registered Clinical Trials Units; and researchers known to work in the area of SW-CRTs. Data extraction will be conducted independently by two reviewers. For the fully published feasibility studies, data will be extracted on the study characteristics, the rationale for the study, the process for determining progression to a main trial, how the study informed the main trial and whether the main trial went ahead. The researchers involved in the unpublished feasibility studies will be contacted in order to elicit the same information. A narrative synthesis will be conducted and provided alongside a descriptive analysis of the study characteristics. Ethics and dissemination: This review does not require ethical approval, as no individual patient data will be used. The results of this review will be published in an open access pee-reviewed journal.