Learning from remote decentralised clinical trial experiences: a qualitative analysis of interviews with trial personnel, patient representatives and other stakeholders

Joanne Coyle (Lead / Corresponding author), Amy Rogers, Rachel Copland, Giorgia De Paoli, Thomas M. MacDonald, Isla S. Mackenzie,

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Aims: The aim of the study was to identify actionable learning points from stakeholders in remote decentralised clinical trials (RDCTs) to inform their future design and conduct.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were carried out with a purposive sample of stakeholders, including senior managers, trial managers, technology experts, principal investigators, clinical investigators, research scientists, research nurses, vendors, patient representatives and project assistants. The interview data were coded using a thematic approach, identifying similarities, differences and clustering to generate descriptive themes. Further refinement of themes was guided by empirical phenomenology, grounding explanation in the meanings that interviewees gave to their experiences.

Results: Forty-eight stakeholders were interviewed. Actionable learning points were generated from the thematic analysis. Patient involvement and participant engagement were seen as critical to the success of RDCTs where in-person contact is minimal or nonexistent. Involving patients in identifying the research question, creating recruitment materials, apps and websites, and providing ongoing feedback to trial participants were regarded as facilitating recruitment and engagement. Building strong relationships early with trial partners was thought to support RDCT conduct. Multiple modes of capturing information, including patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and routinely collected data, were felt to contribute to data completeness. However, RDCTs may transfer trial activity burden onto participants and remote-working research staff, therefore additional support may be needed.

Conclusion: RDCTs will continue to face challenges in implementing novel technologies. However, maximising patient and partner involvement, reducing participant and staff burden, and simplifying how participants and staff interact with the RDCT may facilitate their implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1042
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Remote decentralised clinical trials
  • RDCT
  • virtual trials
  • participant burden
  • participant involvement
  • qualitative interviews
  • remote decentralised clinical trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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