University of Hertfordshire


  • Munyaradzi Dimairo
  • Steven Julious
  • Susan Todd
  • Jonathan Nicholl
  • Jonathan Boote
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2015


Appropriately conducted adaptive designs (ADs) offer many potential advantages over conventional trials. They make better use of accruing data, potentially saving time, trial participants, and limited resources compared to conventional, fixed sample size designs. However, one can argue that ADs are not implemented as often as they should be, particularly in publicly funded confirmatory trials. This study explored barriers, concerns, and potential facilitators to the appropriate use of ADs in confirmatory trials among key stakeholders.

We conducted three cross-sectional, online parallel surveys between November 2014 and January 2015. The surveys were based upon findings drawn from in-depth interviews of key research stakeholders, predominantly in the UK, and targeted Clinical Trials Units (CTUs), public funders, and private sector organisations. Response rates were as follows: 30(55 %) UK CTUs, 17(68 %) private sector, and 86(41 %) public funders. A Rating Scale Model was used to rank barriers and concerns in order of perceived importance for prioritisation.

Top-ranked barriers included the lack of bridge funding accessible to UK CTUs to support the design of ADs, limited practical implementation knowledge, preference for traditional mainstream designs, difficulties in marketing ADs to key stakeholders, time constraints to support ADs relative to competing priorities, lack of applied training, and insufficient access to case studies of undertaken ADs to facilitate practical learning and successful implementation. Associated practical complexities and inadequate data management infrastructure to support ADs were reported as more pronounced in the private sector. For funders of public research, the inadequate description of the rationale, scope, and decision-making criteria to guide the planned AD in grant proposals by researchers were all viewed as major obstacles.

There are still persistent and important perceptions of individual and organisational obstacles hampering the use of ADs in confirmatory trials research. Stakeholder perceptions about barriers are largely consistent across sectors, with a few exceptions that reflect differences in organisations’ funding structures, experiences and characterisation of study interventions. Most barriers appear connected to a lack of practical implementation knowledge and applied training, and limited access to case studies to facilitate practical learning.



© 2015 Dimairo et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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