Daytoday contact between trial coordinators and collaborating centres

A high standard of data management does much to maintain good collaboration with centres. The clinical trials manager (the person of first contact concerning trial issues) should become well known to all relevant staff in the collaborating centres. Consultant staff in these centres soon learn that data are being recorded and checked efficiently, that any queries from centres are being dealt with speedily, and develop confidence in the management of the trial.

The trial management group should also ensure that both active and potential collaborating centres are kept informed about the progress of the trial. They should keep the intake from all centres under close scrutiny. If the rate of recruitment from a centre falls, then they should try to find out why: there may have been unexpected toxicity, or staff may have left or changed. They may be able to help with the training and encouragement of new staff, for example.

Collaboration in a trial can be greatly assisted if the trial enjoys a high profile among the clinical community. Opportunities can usually be found to promote the trial at many types of meeting, ranging from small local groups to major international conferences, and as a summary protocol in various publications. However, it is essential that no interim results be presented by regimen while the intake is still in progress (see Section 8.8).

In some centres, there will be barriers to participation. This could be so for trials that require close coordination between clinicians from different specialities. Administrative problems can be considerable if, for example, different treatment modalities have to be organized by different staff at different hospitals. Such problems can sometimes be partially solved by discussing them with all the involved staff at a local meeting. The views of local specialists must be respected, however, and if one or more of them lacks equipoise about the design of the trial, it would be wrong, and almost certainly counter-productive, to try to persuade them to participate against their better judgment.

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