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University of Stirling


Article in Journal

Framing the conversation: use of PRECIS-2 ratings to advance understanding of pragmatic trial design domains

Lipman PD, Loudon K, Dluzak L, Moloney R, Messner D & Stoney CM (2017) Framing the conversation: use of PRECIS-2 ratings to advance understanding of pragmatic trial design domains, Trials, 18 (1), Art. No.: 532.


There continues to be debate about what constitutes a pragmatic trial and how it is distinguished from more traditional explanatory trials. The NIH Pragmatic Trials Collaborative Project, which includes five trials and a coordinating unit, has adopted the Pragmatic-Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary (PRECIS-2) instrument. The purpose of the study was to collect PRECIS-2 ratings at two points in time to assess whether the tool was sensitive to change in trial design, and to explore with investigators the rationale for rating shifts. 
A mixed-methods design included sequential collection and analysis of quantitative data (PRECIS-2 ratings) and qualitative data. Ratings were collected at two annual, in-person project meetings, and subsequent interviews conducted with investigators were recorded, transcribed, and coded using NVivo 11 Pro for Windows. Rating shifts were coded as either (1) actual change (reflects a change in procedure or protocol), (2) primarily a rating shift reflecting rater variability, or (3) themes that reflect important concepts about the tool and/or pragmatic trial design. 
Based on PRECIS-2 ratings, each trial was highly pragmatic at the planning phase and remained so 1year later in the early phases of trial implementation. Over half of the 45 paired ratings for the nine PRECIS-2 domains indicated a rating change from Time 1 to Time 2 (N = 24, 53%). Of the 24 rating changes, only three represented a true change in the design of the trial. Analysis of rationales for rating shifts identified critical themes associated with the tool or pragmatic trial design more generally. Each trial contributed one or more relevant comments, with Eligibility, Flexibility of Adherence, and Follow-up each accounting for more than one. 
PRECIS-2 has proved useful for “framing the conversation” about trial design among members of the Pragmatic Trials Collaborative Project. Our findings suggest that design elements assessed by the PRECIS-2 tool may represent mostly stable decisions. Overall, there has been a positive response to using PRECIS-2 to guide conversations around trial design, and the project’s focus on the use of the tool by this group of early adopters has provided valuable feedback to inform future trainings on the tool.

Pragmatic trials; Trial design; Effectiveness trials; Mixed methods; PRECIS-2 tool

AuthorsLipman Paula Darby, Loudon Kirsty, Dluzak Leonora, Moloney Rachael, Messner Donna, Stoney Catherine M
Publication date10/11/2017
Publication date online10/11/2017
Date accepted by journal20/10/2017
PublisherBioMed Central
ISSN 1745-6215

Trials: Volume 18, Issue 1 (2017)

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