ScHARR Mini MasterClass in Health Research #7 - Professor Stephen Walters - The ABCs of RCTs
From Andy Tattersall on January 20th, 2021
The ABC of RCTs
This talk will emphasise the importance of randomised clinical trials in evaluating alternative treatments or interventions. The rationale for, and methods of, randomising patients will be briefly described. It will delineate the ‘ABC’ of clinical trials: Allocation at random, Blindness and Control. The value of a trial protocol will be stressed. Different types of randomised trials, such as factorial, cluster and cross-over trials will be briefly described.
The talk will distinguish between those trials conducted to establish superiority of one intervention over another from those that seek equivalence or non-inferiority. Checklists of points to consider when designing, analysing and reading the reports describing a clinical trial will also be discussed.
I graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Economics. This was followed by a PGCE and an MSc in Medical Statistics and Information Technology. My PhD involved using computer intensive statistical methods for estimating sample sizes and analysing quality of life outcomes. I joined ScHARR in January 1995. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2003; Reader in 2008 and to a Personal Chair in 2009. I was the first Director of the Design, Trials and Statistics section in ScHARR from 2012-18.
I am a Chartered Statistician with over 25 years’ experience of health services research and technology assessment. The main focus of my research has been in the design, conduct, analysis, and reporting of trials of complex interventions; and the design, assessment, analysis and interpretation of patient reported outcomes in clinical trials. I work with clinicians from a variety of backgrounds to develop pragmatic clinical trial designs to capture the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a variety of health technologies. I have been co-investigator for more than 20 RCTs of non-pharmaceutical interventions.
I am currently an National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator. I have been a member of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Clinical Evaluation and Trials Board (2011-17) and the East Midlands Regional Funding Committee for the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Pogramme (2011-2012). I have also been a member of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Public Health Interventions Advisory Committee (2008-2013).
I have co-authored over 300 publications (including 200 in refereed journals and 4 books, with over 21,000 copies sold). The majority of my peer-reviewed journal articles have been applied research, with the emphasis on the evaluation of new services. I have been a co-applicant, statistical advisor and collaborator on over 67 health services research projects.