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Southampton Clinical Trials UnitNews

SCTU staff create a new online course to help researchers use digital tools for clinical trials

Published: 6 October 2021
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Staff from the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit (SCTU) have created a new online course to help other researchers use digital tools to recruit and retain participants on clinical trials.

The team, involving a collaboration of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) groups, used NIHR funding to develop the Digital Tools for Efficient Clinical Trials course on the online platform Future Learn.

The four-week course aims to give researchers and trial teams an overview of how digital tools such as social media, websites, and other digital technologies can be effective ways of increasing the recruitment and retention of trial participants and provides evidence to back their use, while also considering their advantages and possible limitations.

Jacqui Nuttall, head of trial management at the SCTU, said: “As a trials unit, we have experience of using some of these digital tools as part of our recruitment and retention strategies and have learnt valuable lessons about the best practice for doing this. Recently, our SAFA clinical trial, which is testing a treatment for female acne, used social media platforms to reach a broader, more diverse audience. It has now exceeded its recruitment target with around 60% of women contacting us via social media being recruited into the trial.”

Jacqui helped develop the course along with Giorgos Dritsakis, a trial manager and lead researcher at SCTU, and both will be facilitating learning for others throughout the four-week programme.

Giorgos said: “There are so many digital tools now available that can help researchers who are running clinical trials to reach more participants, and also really benefit the people taking part in trials by making it easier to get involved in research.

“Developing this course has been a really exciting project for the SCTU and we are now looking forward to sharing our expertise with other clinical trial teams.”

The Southampton Clinical Trials Unit has an internationally recognised reputation in understanding the development of successful clinical trials. The MOOC (massive open online course) also uses research findings from an NIHR-funded project on research using technology in clinical trials.

The Digital Tools for Efficient Clinical Trials course was created in collaboration with University of Southampton’s Digital Learning team, Bristol Randomised Trials Collaboration, NIHR NETSCC and the Southampton Health Technology Assessments Centre.

The course is open to anyone with an interest in clinical research. Participants can learn at their own pace, or there are facilitated runs of the course led by the research team members with an opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions.

To find out more and register for the course, visit the Future Learn site.

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