Promoting and publicizing the trial

As soon as a trial is open to recruitment, the trial management group should ensure that it is registered with at least one appropriate trial register, irrespective of whether or not national law requires this. Chapter 11 discusses trial registration further and provides website details in Table 11.5. They should also ensure that the trial has been assigned a unique identifying number such as the ISRCTN (see Box 11.1); this will usually be issued by the trial sponsor or funding organization. Copies of the protocol should also be sent to any relevant national cancer charities and patient advocacy groups. The trial sponsor (defined in Section 7.4.1) and trial management group may also want a summary statement to send to the press.

Promoting and publicizing a trial does not end when it has been launched. Indeed, the trial management group should always be on the lookout for opportunities to encourage collaborating centres to enter all consenting eligible patients and appropriate new centres to join. To these ends, a regular programme of promotional activities should be instituted. These might include the following.

♦ Send out regular newsletters to centres that are already collaborating and others that might be interested in doing so. These should remind people of the purposes and design of the trial and report on the progress of the intake and data collection. Give encouragement where things are going well, and draw attention to any problems, suggesting how they can be dealt with.

♦ Send a protocol summary to suitable journals to publicize the trial. A number of journals, if approached, may agree to publish brief summary protocols of multi-centre randomized trials, with the aim of encouraging participation.

♦ Arrange to give presentations at local meetings within centres during centre visits.

♦ Request facilities, such as poster space or a stand, from the organizers of relevant conferences for promoting the trial and for providing handouts.

♦ From time to time, contact centres that originally expressed an interest in the trial but have not yet started entering patients. Report to them on the progress of the trial and encourage them to join.

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