A tool used to rate how the design of a pragmatic clinical trial will influence the real-world applicability of its results can also be used in real time to assess the impact of changes in trial implementation, a recent study published in Trials found.
When designing a pragmatic trial to test the effectiveness of an intervention under “real-world” conditions, researchers use the Pragmatic Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary-2 (PRECIS-2) to assess how a variety of design features may affect the applicability of trial results for the intended users. A pragmatic trial differs from a traditional “explanatory” trial, which tests the efficacy of an intervention under ideal conditions. PRECIS-2 rates design features on a scale from “explanatory” to “pragmatic” within several domains. The end users of trial results, such as health care systems, may need the results to be more or less “pragmatic” on the explanatory–pragmatic spectrum in order to implement the intervention in their own care delivery settings.
In a novel effort, researchers with the Pragmatic Trial of Video Education in Nursing Homes (PROVEN) used PRECIS-2 during the conduct of the trial to assess the effects of midtrial changes in implementation. PROVEN, an ongoing NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project, is a pragmatic, cluster randomized trial evaluating the effectiveness of video-assisted decision support tools for advance care planning in nursing homes.
In the initial design of PROVEN, design features in the implementation-focused domains of PRECIS-2 were relatively pragmatic, especially in the domain measuring flexibility in the delivery of the intervention. As the trial progressed, adaptations in implementation that were necessary to address challenges in monitoring and protocol adherence led to more explanatory approaches. The investigators concluded that some pragmatic trials, such as those conducted in complex health care systems like nursing homes, “may benefit from a more dynamic approach to implementation which allows for fluidity between pragmatic and explanatory features.” PRECIS-2 can be useful in evaluating the impact of midtrial adaptations with these dynamic approaches to trial implementation.
PROVEN is one of the first large-scale pragmatic trials to be conducted in nursing homes. Learn more about PRECIS-2 in the Living Textbook.