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Choosing the design of an external pilot study, focusing on objectives and sample size

Project Description

This is an exciting opportunity for a three-year PhD studentship within the supportive learning environment of the Barts Institute of Population Health Science at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. You will also be working as part of the international PAFS (Pilot and Feasibility Studies) collaboration that recently developed the CONSORT extension for pilot and feasibility studies. Applications are invited from ambitious students with a background in medical statistics or clinical trials methodology. Applicants should have a good Honours degree in a relevant subject and experience of clinical trials.

The PhD aims to explore how the size of pilot and feasibility studies in advance of randomised controlled trials influences whether such randomised controlled trials take place and can be viewed as successful, and consequently what are the best ways to choose the size of such studies. To achieve this aim, the project will answer the following research questions:

1. What are researchers doing in practice to choose the size of their pilot and feasibility studies? How is this related to the objectives of such studies? How is the method used and the actual pilot study size related to what happened following the pilot?
2. What existing guidance is there on choosing the size of a pilot study?
3. What do experts in the field think about the best way to choose the size of a pilot study?
4. What should investigators do in the future in relation to choosing the size of a pilot study?

The project will address these questions through four work packages. To identify current practice, work package 1 will include a systematic review of published studies, a review of funding applications, and interviews with investigators. To identify existing guidance, work package 2 will include a systematic review of methodological literature, a review of funding body websites, and other relevant websites. To gather expert opinion, work package 3 will include a Delphi consensus process. To develop recommendations for future practice work package 4 will include developing and refining of guidance through meetings with the PAFS team and piloting and refining of guidance.

Interviews will take place in week beginning 30th April.

Funding Notes

The studentship is fully funded for 36 months, and can commence at any time up to the end of October 2019. It includes university fees and a tax free stipend per annum of at least £16,777.

How good is research at Queen Mary University of London in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 20.61

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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