The challenge of conducting surgical trials

The randomised controlled trial (RCT) has been described as the ‘gold standard’ study design for assessing new healthcare interventions. But randomised trials of surgical evaluations are rare, meaning some interventions have been adopted without rigorous evaluation. Surgical trials are difficult to undertake due to inherent practical and methodological challenges in conducting them, as Dr Jonathan Cook from the University of Aberdeen explains in the latest review article published in Trials.


The challenges faced in the design, conduct and analysis of surgical RCTs
Jonathan A Cook
Trials 2009, 10:9 (6 February 2009)
[Abstract] [Provisional PDF]

Despite these difficulties, RCTs of surgery have played a role in assessing some new surgical techniques, and Dr Cook calls for greater collaboration between research and surgical communities to enable the conduct of appropriate and well-designed trials. The review also considers the timing of the evaluation, how to define the appropriate research question, and how to address issues of trial design.

All content published in Trials is open access. The journal publishes articles on the design, performance and findings of randomised controlled trials in any healthcare discipline. Trial results are considered regardless of the outcome or significance of the findings, encouraging transparency in research reporting. For more information contact the editorial office.

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