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Dynamic methods for ongoing assessment of site-level risk in risk-based monitoring of clinical trials: A scoping review

Cragg, WJ; Hurley, C; Yorke-Edwards, V; Stenning, SP; (2021) Dynamic methods for ongoing assessment of site-level risk in risk-based monitoring of clinical trials: A scoping review. Clinical Trials 10.1177/1740774520976561. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS: It is increasingly recognised that reliance on frequent site visits for monitoring clinical trials is inefficient. Regulators and trialists have recently encouraged more risk-based monitoring. Risk assessment should take place before a trial begins to define the overarching monitoring strategy. It can also be done on an ongoing basis, to target sites for monitoring activity. Various methods have been proposed for such prioritisation, often using terms like 'central statistical monitoring', 'triggered monitoring' or, as in the International Conference on Harmonization Good Clinical Practice guidance, 'targeted on-site monitoring'. We conducted a scoping review to identify such methods, to establish if any were supported by adequate evidence to allow wider implementation, and to guide future developments in this field of research. METHODS: We used seven publication databases, two sets of methodological conference abstracts and an Internet search engine to identify methods for using centrally held trial data to assess site conduct during a trial. We included only reports in English, and excluded reports published before 1996 or not directly relevant to our research question. We used reference and citation searches to find additional relevant reports. We extracted data using a predefined template. We contacted authors to request additional information about included reports. RESULTS: We included 30 reports in our final dataset, of which 21 were peer-reviewed publications. In all, 20 reports described central statistical monitoring methods (of which 7 focussed on detection of fraud or misconduct) and 9 described triggered monitoring methods; 21 reports included some assessment of their methods' effectiveness, typically exploring the methods' characteristics using real trial data without known integrity issues. Of the 21 with some effectiveness assessment, most contained limited information about whether or not concerns identified through central monitoring constituted meaningful problems. Several reports demonstrated good classification ability based on more than one classification statistic, but never without caveats of unclear reporting or other classification statistics being low or unavailable. Some reports commented on cost savings from reduced on-site monitoring, but none gave detailed costings for the development and maintenance of central monitoring methods themselves. CONCLUSION: Our review identified various proposed methods, some of which could be combined within the same trial. The apparent emphasis on fraud detection may not be proportionate in all trial settings. Despite some promising evidence and some self-justifying benefits for data cleaning activity, many proposed methods have limitations that may currently prevent their routine use for targeting trial monitoring activity. The implementation costs, or uncertainty about these, may also be a barrier. We make recommendations for how the evidence-base supporting these methods could be improved.

Type: Article
Title: Dynamic methods for ongoing assessment of site-level risk in risk-based monitoring of clinical trials: A scoping review
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1740774520976561
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1740774520976561
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 by The Society for Clinical Trials. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Good Clinical Practice, Trial monitoring, central statistical monitoring, data fabrication, research misconduct, risk-based monitoring, triggered monitoring
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122218
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