'Away Days' in multi-centre randomised controlled trials: a questionnaire survey of their use and a case study on the effect of one Away Day on patient recruitment.
Jefferson L., Cook L., Keding A., Brealey S., Handoll H., Rangan A.
'Away Days' (trial promotion and training events for trial site personnel) are a well-established method used by trialists to encourage engagement of research sites in the recruitment of patients to multi-centre randomised controlled trials (RCTs). We explored the use of Away Days in multi-centre RCTs and analysed the effect on patient recruitment in a case study.Members of the United Kingdom Trial Managers' Network were surveyed to investigate their experiences in the design and conduct of Away Days in RCTs. We used data from a multi-centre pragmatic surgical trial to explore the effects of an Away Day on the screening and recruitment of patients.Of those who responded to the survey, findings indicate that nearly all respondents (94%) found Away Days useful. Despite their costs, anecdotal reports from the survey suggest these events are useful. There was no conclusive evidence, however, from the analysis of data from a surgical trial that attendance at an Away Day increased the number of patients screened or recruited at participating sites.Evidence from a multi-centre surgical trial shows no improvement on a key indicator of trial success, points to the need to examine the aims, design and conduct of Away Days, which are widely used and presumed to enhance trial success. Further research nested within RCTs would be valuable to evaluate the design and conduct of Away Days. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.