Defining feasibility and pilot studies in preparation for randomised controlled trials:development of a conceptual framework

Eldridge, Sandra M. and Lancaster, Gillian A. and Campbell, Michael J. and Thabane, Lehana and Hopewell, Sally and Coleman, Claire L. and Bond, Christine M. (2016) Defining feasibility and pilot studies in preparation for randomised controlled trials:development of a conceptual framework. PLoS ONE, 11 (3). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

We describe a framework for defining pilot and feasibility studies focusing on studies conducted in preparation for a randomised controlled trial. To develop the framework, we undertook a Delphi survey; ran an open meeting at a trial methodology conference; conducted a review of definitions outside the health research context; consulted experts at an international consensus meeting; and reviewed 27 empirical pilot or feasibility studies. We initially adopted mutually exclusive definitions of pilot and feasibility studies. However, some Delphi survey respondents and the majority of open meeting attendees disagreed with the idea of mutually exclusive definitions. Their viewpoint was supported by definitions outside the health research context, the use of the terms 'pilot' and 'feasibility' in the literature, and participants at the international consensus meeting. In our framework, pilot studies are a subset of feasibility studies, rather than the two being mutually exclusive. A feasibility study asks whether something can be done, should we proceed with it, and if so, how. A pilot study asks the same questions but also has a specific design feature: in a pilot study a future study, or part of a future study, is conducted on a smaller scale. We suggest that to facilitate their identification, these studies should be clearly identified using the terms 'feasibility' or 'pilot' as appropriate. This should include feasibility studies that are largely qualitative; we found these difficult to identify in electronic searches because researchers rarely used the term 'feasibility' in the title or abstract of such studies. Investigators should also report appropriate objectives and methods related to feasibility; and give clear confirmation that their study is in preparation for a future randomised controlled trial designed to assess the effect of an intervention.

Item Type: Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Additional Information: © 2016 Eldridge et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700
Subjects:
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Mathematics and Statistics
ID Code: 79443
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 10 May 2016 13:32
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 02:42
URI: https://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/79443

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