by Idriss Tourabaly, Isabelle Boutron, Rémy Nizard, Philippe Ravaud
We aimed to develop a new tool for assessing and depicting the applicability of the results of surgical randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from the trial investigators' perspective. Methods
We identified all items related to applicability by a systematic methodological review, and then a sample of surgeons used these items in a web-based survey to evaluate the applicability of their own trial results. For each applicability item, participants had to indicate on a numerical scale that was simplified as a three-item scale: 1) items essential to consider, 2) items requiring attention, and 3) items inconsequential to the applicability of the results of their own RCT to clinical practice. For the final tool, we selected only items that were rated as being essential or requiring attention for at least 25% of the trials evaluated. We propose a specific process to construct the tool and to depict applicability in a graph. We identified all investigators of published and registered ongoing RCTs assessing surgery and invited them to participate in the web-based survey. Results
148 surgeons assessed applicability for their own trial and participated in the process of item selection. The final tool contains 22 items (4 dedicated to patients, 5 to centers, 5 to surgeons and 8 to the intervention). We proposed a straightforward process of constructing the graphical tool: 1) a multidisciplinary team of investigators or other care providers participating in the trial could independently assess each item, 2) a consensus method could be used, and 3) the investigators could depict their assessment of the applicability of the trial results in 4 graphs related to patients, centers, surgeons and the intervention. Conclusions
This investigator-reported assessment tool could help readers define under what conditions they could reasonably apply the results of a surgical RCT to their clinical practice.