Novel research methodologies and their application in the study of neurological conditions and COVID-19

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Medicine


It is important to ensure research is accessible to all those interested in taking part, and that those participating are representative of the people to whom the research outcomes apply. Participants traditionally travel to central sites for data collection in clinical trials, which can be particularly difficult for people with neurological or age-related disorders who may be restricted geographically, physically, or psychologically.

The remit of this thesis was to ascertain if novel research methodologies, using methods to collect data and monitor patients remotely, could address these issues in order to broaden participant access, involvement, and retention in cost-effective research, whilst maintaining high research standards.

In this thesis, I present the findings of a systematic review of such methods used to conduct trials into neurological conditions. I evaluate the effectiveness of remote methods in terms of recruitment and retention figures, and summarise remote methods used as well as stakeholder and participant opinions of completing research in this way.

I describe the design (informed by the findings of the systematic review) and results of the RECALL Pilot Study. This assessed several aspects of remote methodology in the study of dementia prevention including recruitment, eligibility testing, consent, baseline data collection, online cognitive testing, home blood pressure monitoring and point-of-care safety blood tests.

I go on to demonstrate how the study design used in the RECALL Pilot Study was successfully transferred to another research area by assessing recruitment, retention and a selection of preliminary results (in particular with regards to neurological symptoms) of the VAC4COVID Study, which monitors the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines across the UK.

Finally, I describe the central role Public Involvement and Public Engagement took in the design of both of these studies, which was key to their success.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorIsla Mackenzie (Supervisor), Thomas MacDonald (Supervisor) & Jonathan O'Riordan (Supervisor)


  • Decentralised clinical trials
  • Neurology
  • Covid-19

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