Friday 28 Mar 2014What is a pilot study and how do I do a good one?

Professor Sandra Eldridge - Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, QMUL

Lecture Theatre, Veysey Building, Salmon Pool Lane Exeter 12:30-13:30

Pilot/feasibility studies are an essential part of trial preparation, particularly for the planning of complex interventions. However, recent research has shown that pilot/feasibility studies suffer from publication bias and a lack of clarity in the objectives and methodological focus. Those of us who sit on panels for funding bodies have also noticed frequent misunderstandings about the purpose of pilot/feasibility studies when these are part of a funding application; opportunities to answer important research questions at the piloting/feasibility stage may be lost and as a result full trials may be less efficient, interventions may be less effective, and trials may run into serious problems with conduct and recruitment that could have been anticipated and allowed for with proper piloting. There is currently a great deal of interest in this area. Over the past two years a group of us have been developing reporting guidelines for pilot/feasibility studies via a series of meetings, and a large Delphi study, and we will be conducting a consensus meeting later in 2014. In the course of this work we have grappled with, amongst other things, the definition of pilot/feasibility studies and how to ensure such a study is well done. The seminar will briefly describe this work and the work of others in this area, the debate about definitions, and some do's and don'ts of pilot/feasibility studies.

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