NIHR Senior Investigator Research Methods Fellowships


In conjunction with two of ScHARR’s NIHR Senior Investigators Professor Jon Nicholl and Professor Steve Goodacre, DTS’s Professor Steven Julious has been successful in obtaining two prestigious NIHR Research Methods fellowships to work on the use of adaptive designs in publicly funded RCTs, particularly emergency medicine. NIHR Research Methods Fellowships and Internships form part of the NIHR Research Methods Programme, the purpose of which is to:

Attract to the NIHR the most talented individuals, especially those who are not currently working in a health-related field.

Provide these individuals with the necessary support and training to become specialist methodologists in areas relevant to the NIHR.

Expand their research interests into areas relevant to the NIHR.

Laura Flight, who started in October 2013, is studying part time for the MSc in Statistics with Applications in Health and is working with Professor Goodacre on a Research Methods Fellowship on the “Use of adaptive designs in emergency medicine RCTs”.

A previous receipient of the Research methods Fellowship was Ben Sully who, with Professor Nicholl, and Professor Julious investigated recruitment to publicly funded RCTs in the UK. They found that over half (55%) of trials recruited their originally specified target sample size, with over three-quarters (78%) recruiting 80% of their target. There was no evidence of this improving over the time of the assessment. Nearly half (45%) of trials received an extension of some kind. Those that did were no more likely to successfully recruit. Trials with 80% power were less likely to successfully recruit compared to studies with 90% power.

They concluded that while recruitment appears to have improved since 1994 to 2002, publicly-funded trials in the UK still struggle to recruit to their target sample size, and both time and financial extensions are often requested. They recommended that where possible studies are planned with 90% power.

A reinvestigation of recruitment to randomised, controlled, multicenter trials: a review of trials funded by two UK funding agencies.

BGO Sully, SA Julious, J Nicholl - Trials, 2013; 14: 166.