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Digital Tools for Efficient Clinical Trials

Discover how digital tools can be used for the recruitment and retention of participants within clinical trials.

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Learn how digital tools can be used throughout clinical trials

This four-week clinical trials course is designed to create awareness about the availability and use of digital tools for the recruitment and retention of participants within clinical trials.

You’ll explore the key tools for recruitment and retention, how they are used and their overall advantages and limitations.

Develop an understanding of what digital tools are

You’ll firstly develop an understanding of what digital tools are and how they are used within the context of clinical trials.

You’ll then evaluate examples of digital tools that have been used for recruitment and retention of participants within clinical trials.

Identify ways in which digital tools could be used to support clinical trials

You’ll then identify the ways in which digital tools can be used to support clinical trials, and will explore the evidence for the effectiveness of digital tools.

You’ll then discuss the aspects that a researcher would need to consider if they intend to use one of these tools, and identify useful further information to discover further.

Learn with clinical trial experts from the University of Southampton

Throughout the duration of the course, you’ll be under the guidance of Jacqui Nuttall, Head of Trial Management in the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, and Giorgos Dritsakis, a trial manager and lead researcher in the same unit.

The course will draw heavily on research findings from an NIHR-funded (National Institute for Health Research) project on research using technology in clinical trials. The team has an internationally-recognised reputation in understanding the development of successful clinical trials, and you’ll be able to engage with stakeholders throughout the process.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Introduction to this course

    • Welcome

      Welcome to this course on digital tools for clinical trials. In this section, we introduce ourselves and get to know you too!

    • Are digital tools for me?

      In this section, we will present examples of digital tools and the evidence underpinning our work. We'll share some experiences from professionals on how and why they have used digital tools.

    • Our research project: digital tools in action

      We present a more detailed view of our research project, its methodology and a case study from practice.

    • Week 1 - summary activities

      In this final section, we summarise the main points covered this week and encourage you to reflect on what you've learnt.

  • Week 2

    Digital tools for recruitment

    • Welcome to week 2

      In this section, we will introduce you to week 2 of the course and explain how the evidence from our rapid review will be presented.

    • Tools to raise trial awareness

      Successful trial recruitment requires reach, encouragement, and information. In this section, we show you our evidence of the effectiveness of social media and websites in raising trial awareness.

    • Tools to identify participants

      Potential participants often need help to find suitable trials, and recruiters need to target particular populations. In this section, we discuss the effectiveness of particular tools in identifying or directing participants.

    • Summary activities

      In this final section, we summarise the main points covered this week and encourage you to reflect on what you've learnt.

  • Week 3

    Digital tools for retention

    • Welcome to week 3

      In this section, we introduce you to the theme for week 3 and remind you of the evidence-basis for our information.

    • Using tools as trial prompts or reminders

      We will consider some tools for retention and look at the evidence on how to improve the retention of existing participants in clinical trials.

    • Summary activities

      In this final section, we summarise the main points covered this week and encourage you to reflect on what you've learnt.

  • Week 4

    Considerations when using digital tools

    • Welcome to week 4

      In this final week of the course we will consider the validity of using digital tools in research, and we'll look into the future to give recommendations on how to use digital tools in future clinical trials.

    • The need for evidence

      We summarise the key information presented in the course, in particular some of the advantages of using digital tools, some methodological limitations in our study, and some recommendations for future studies.

    • Digital tools in action

      In this section, we look at considerations for the use of digital tools in clinical research as well as the need for Studies Within A Trial (SWATs) and how they should be run.

    • Qualitative data

      We enrich our discussion of digital tools by looking at qualitative findings from a previous study. We also consider security and transparency issues in the use of digital tools in clinical trials.

    • Week 4 - summary activities

      In this final section, we summarise the main points covered this week and encourage you to reflect on what you've learnt.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop an understanding of what we mean by 'digital tools' for clinical trials
  • Discuss examples of digital tools that have been used for recruitment and retention of participants in clinical trials
  • Identify ways in which digital tools could be used to support clinical trials
  • Evaluate the evidence for the effectiveness of different tools
  • Explore what a researcher might need to consider when planning to use digital tools in clinical trials
  • Collect ideas on where to find useful further information
  • Reflect upon how digital tools might be useful in your own context and share experiences with others
  • Investigate how to evaluate digital tools as a study within a trial to build on an evidence base.

Who is the course for?

This course is primarily intended for staff in clinical trial units (CTUs), Research Design Services (RDSs), monitoring staff in the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NTSCC), National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) grant applicants, funding board members, referees and other professionals involved in clinical trials.

Who will you learn with?

I am a Trial Manager at the Southampton CTU and have worked in clinical research for 10 years. I have a PhD in Hearing Science and a background in Linguistics.

Passionate about delivering high quality clinical trials, including improving the methodology supporting the conduct of clinical trials

Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

NIHR - National Institute for Health Research

NIHR funds, enables and delivers world-leading health and social care research that improves people’s health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth.

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