Challenges in Implementing Hospice Clinical Trials: Preserving Scientific Integrity While Facing Change

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15 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: Numerous changes can occur between the original design plans for clinical trials, the submission of funding proposals, and the implementation of the clinical trial. In the hospice setting, environmental changes can present significant obstacles, which require changes to the original plan designs, recruitment, and staffing. The purpose of the study was to share lessons and problem-solving strategies that can assist in future hospice trials. Methods: This study uses one hospice clinical trial as an exemplar to demonstrate challenges for clinical trial research in this setting. Using preliminary data collected during the first months of a trial, the research team details the many ways their current protocol reflects changes from the originally proposed plans. Experiences are used as an exemplar to address the following questions: 1) How do research environments change between the initial submission of a funding proposal and the eventual award? 2) How can investigators maintain the integrity of the research and accommodate unexpected changes in the research environment? Results: The changing environment within the hospice setting required design, sampling, and recruitment changes within the first year. The decision-making process resulted in a stronger design with greater generalization. As a result of necessary protocol changes, the study results are positioned to be translational following the study conclusion. Conclusion: Researchers would do well to review their protocol and statistics early in a clinical trial. They should be prepared for adjustments to accommodate market and environmental changes outside their control. Ongoing data monitoring, specifically related to recruitment, is advised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Hospice clinical trial
  • cluster crossover designs in hospice
  • pragmatic randomized clinical trials


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