Clinical researchers’ lived experiences with data quality monitoring in clinical trials: a qualitative study

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BMC Medical Research Methodology


Background: Fundamental to the success of clinical research that involves human participants is the quality of the data that is generated. To ensure data quality, clinical trials must comply with the Good Clinical Practice guideline which recommends data monitoring. To date, the guideline is broad, requires technology for enforcement, follows strict industry standards, mostly designed for drug-registration trials and based on informal consensus. It is also unknown what challenges clinical trials and researchers face in implementing data monitoring procedures. Thus, this study aimed to describe researcher experiences with data quality monitoring in clinical trials. Methods: We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews following a guided-phenomenological approach. Participants were recruited from the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry and were researchers affiliated with a listed clinical study. Each transcript was analysed with inductive thematic analysis before thematic categorisation of themes from all transcripts. Primary, secondary and subthemes were categorised according to the emerging relationships. Results: Data saturation were reached after interviewing seven participants. Five primary themes, two secondary themes and 21 subthemes in relation to data quality monitoring emerged from the data. The five primary themes included: education and training, ways of working, working with technology, working with data, and working within regulatory requirements. The primary theme ‘education and training’ influenced the other four primary themes. While ‘working with technology’ influenced the ‘way of working’. All other themes had reciprocal relationships. There was no relationship reported between ‘working within regulatory requirements’ and ‘working with technology’. The researchers experienced challenges in meeting regulatory requirements, using technology and fostering working relationships for data quality monitoring. Conclusion: Clinical trials implemented a variety of data quality monitoring procedures tailored to their situation and study context. Standardised frameworks that are accessible to all types of clinical trials are needed with an emphasis on education and training.

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