CLAHRCs are, at least in part, vehicles for testing new service interventions on a small scale to see if they are likely to work at a grand scale. Guidelines for such ‘proof of principle’ studies are therefore important to CLAHRCs and CONSORT has now published guidelines specifically for feasibility trials. The paper hugely exceeds the BMJ word limit and is a somewhat tedious read, albeit clear and useful as a reference document. The distinguished authors define a pilot trial as a particular type of feasibility study in which ‘a future definitive study, or a part of it, is conducted on a smaller scale.’ Lancasters’ original point, that such as study should not be used to determine sample size for the definitive study, is made and should be taken to heart. Most of the examples are based on clinical treatments, rather than service/policy interventions. Anyway, it should be included in the growing library of guidelines that researchers need to be aware of, but don’t let us enslave ourselves to these voluminous documents. It is the principles behind them that should be deployed creatively by intelligent researchers.
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- Eldridge SM, Chan CL, Campbell MJ. CONSORT 2010 Statement: Extension to Randomised Pilot and Feasibility Trials. BMJ. 2016; 355: i5239.