Qualitative Research In Trials

QUAHRC at King’s College London is affiliated with the King's Clinical Trials Unit. In this capacity, we advise on conducting qualitative research in stand-alone studies and as part of larger programmes of research using the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework on developing and evaluating complex interventions (Craig, 2008).

The updated MRC-NIHR guidance for optimising the impact of complex interventions in real world conditions (Skivington, 2021) has continued to shift the focus away from the binary question of effectiveness to whether an intervention is acceptable to patients, families and professionals, whether it is feasible to implement, and whether it can be used across contexts. Qualitative research is ideally placed to resolve uncertainties in each of these areas and to ensure that interventions are grounded in the priorities and needs of those who will use them.

Our portfolio of work includes trials of complex interventions, drug trials & feasibility studies.

Why include qualitative research in trials?

  • To increase the relevance of evidence generation by listening to the voices of important stakeholders
  • To contribute to developing interventions with a good chance of being effective
  • To help establish the feasibility of a larger trial
  • To optimise interventions and study design
  • To optimise recruitment and retention
  • To enhance or explain trial findings, including why an intervention was found to be ineffective or what were the key aspects of the intervention that contributed to producing an effect (mechanisms of impact)
  • To understand complexity, including the mechanisms behind interventions, how interventions are implemented in practice and the context in which the intervention is implemented
  • To facilitate transfer of knowledge from RCTs to the real world.