Orthopaedic trial networks.
Rangan A., Brealey S., Carr A.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the most robust design for evaluating health care interventions. However, it is difficult to acquire funding for RCTs, and they are complex to set up. Threats to their successful conduct and impact on clinical practice, particularly in surgical trials, include problems with recruitment, notably in terms of clinical equipoise and patient acceptability. Historically, RCTs are less common in surgical specialties, and their contribution to the orthopaedic literature remains small. Orthopaedic networks, such as orthopaedic associations, specialist societies, travel fellowships, and clinical research networks, provide an opportunity to meet the challenges of promoting RCTs in orthopaedic clinical practice. This can include identifying important research questions to help prioritize funding; educating and training surgeons in the design and practice of RCTs; helping to promote and coordinate RCTs; and disseminating the findings of RCTs. Orthopaedic trial networks should be encouraged to promote a research culture in which RCTs are feasible and to ensure that scarce resources utilized to support their funding are used most efficiently and to best effect. In particular, the use of networks is encouraged to support the conduct of RCTs in achieving patient recruitment, which is crucial in providing the evidence base to inform orthopaedic practice. Furthermore, to improve generalizability, acceptance of study findings and communication between orthopaedic surgeons, as well as international collaboration in trials, should be part of the strategy for the future.