The MRC-NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership (TMRP) has been awarded a prestigious international prize for making trials of new healthcare treatments more efficient and effective. The UK Trial Managers’ Network, hosted by the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Nottingham and funded by the University of Oxford, has been a partner in the TMRP since it started in June 2019.
The TMRP have won one of the 2021 Cochrane-REWARD prizes through work conducted to “reduce research waste”.
Trial Management professionals play a pivotal, specialist role in clinical trials. The UKTMN, a thriving network for trial management professionals working on academic-led public-funded trials has been a key partner in the TMRP.. The partnership also brings together several other research networks; Health Data Research UK, UKCRC Registered CTU Network, HRB Trials Methodology Research Network in Ireland, The Global Health Networkand 25 universities offering methodology studentships.
Randomised controlled are the cornerstone of evidence-based healthcare. They are the best way to assess whether treatments and healthcare interventions work.
TMRP forms a partnership that brings together networks, institutions and partners working in clinical trials and research to improve clinical trials (trials methodology research). This research ensures health research, practice and policy are built on the best evidence; and maximises benefits for patients and the public.
Research waste can occur during five stages of research production: question selection, study design, research conduct, publication, and reporting. Much of this waste appears to be avoidable or remediable, but few solutions had previously been proposed or synthesised. The Cochrane-REWARD prize highlights “both underused "remedies" and the need to invest in research to identify problems and solutions to them”.
To reduce waste and make the trials process more efficient, TMRP members work together as a community of practice, strengthening links between trialists, methods researchers, clinicians, patients, the public, and funders. TMRP includes eight Working Groups: Adaptive Designs; Global Health; Health Economics; Health Informatics; Outcomes; Statistical Analysis; Stratified Medicine; and Trial Conduct.
The impact of better networking has led to:
• better, more impactful research
• ability to pivot to COVID-19 projects
• less duplication of effort
• value for money
• increased education and knowledge exchange
More effective COVID trials
An example of TMRP’s impact can be seen in the rapid development and deployment of highest quality trials to assess the management of COVID-19. New trial designs have led to more efficient and expedient trials. By using the same control group for several evaluations, fewer patients need to be randomised. The ability to add and remove treatments means that ineffective or highly beneficial treatments are identified quicker and trial infrastructure only has to be set up once.
The Partnership organises the world’s largest, academic-led conference for clinical trials methodology: ICTMC – the International Clinical Trials and Methodology conference. TMRP looks forward to discussing further new evidence-based improvements in Harrogate, UK in October 2022.
Professor Paula Williamson, TMRP lead, said: “We’re delighted to have our work recognised with this award. TMRP has demonstrated how working together as a community of practice can achieve impact, making trials more efficient for the benefit of patients and other decision-makers.”
Associate Professor Eleanor Mitchell, Chair of UKTMN, based in the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit, said: “It’s a privilege for UKTMN to partner with TMRP. The partnership has demonstrated that collegiate and collaborative working is beneficial to designing and conducting efficient trials which ultimately benefit patients and our wider society. Its fantastic that the partnership’s work has been recognised by this prestigious award.”
The team picked up the second prize award at the Cochrane Connects meeting on 1st March 2022, alongside this year’s Canadian first prize winners: COVID-END.