Background: Unless clinical trials are well designed, there is a risk that they will not be usable to improve patient care.
Aim: This paper discusses some factors important in designing clinical trials in paediatric dentistry. It uses the prevention and management of dental caries in children as the lens through which to look at these.
Findings: Amongst many other factors to consider are: clear research questions and objectives; appropriate outcomes and outcome measures; sample size calculation and the level of randomisation; methods for random allocation; and operator/ assessor training. Experts in trial design including statisticians and a trial manager should be consulted early in the design process. The aspects of trial design unique to cariology trials such as "clustering" of data items, mixed dentition issues and those related to trials involving children (communication, consent etc) should be factored in. Comprehensive reporting of the trial's results is essential.
Conclusion: There are many readily available resources and tools to help the researcher design a trial of good quality that will yield results useful to the research community and beyond, to those who will implement the findings and ultimately those who will benefit from them.
- Clinical ressearch
- Clinical trials