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Stakeholder roundtable: Are Randomised Control Trials still the gold standard in patient engagement and medical research?

Are Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) still the gold standard in patient engagement and medical research?

Our chair, Academic Vice President Professor Margaret Johnson will facilitate four presentations for and against the use of RCTs in research by:
Professor Alan Boyd, President of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine
Professor David Webb, President of the British Pharmacological Society and Professor of Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh
Professor Ashley Woodcock, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the North West Lung Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester, and the University of Manchester and elected member of Council at the Royal College of Physicians
Dr Elaine Murphy, Consultant Adult Inherited Metabolic Disease, Charles Dent Metabolic Unit, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery

RCTs have long been considered the gold standard for drug development as it establishes causation in a precise and controlled manner, typically measuring success of a new drug or intervention against a group of randomised control participants receiving a placebo. However as research advances, there have been criticisms levelled at the use of RCTs particularly when responding to epidemics (Adebamowo et al) or use in conditions where mortality is high (Nardini). Furthermore, with a diverse population and ever increasing prevalence of co-morbidity (Fortin et. al), the RCT can be problematic due to the selection of participants which excludes a part of the population. However, there are new opportunities, such as the use of RCTs in service evaluation (Dhesi et al) that can be considered.

Linacre Room, Royal College of Physicians, London