Forming a national multicentre collaboration to conduct clinical trials: increasing high-quality research in the drug and alcohol field.

Abstract

ISSUES There is a shortage of high-quality intervention-based evidence in the drug and alcohol misuse field. That is, evidence based on replicated effects using rigorous methodology, to establish a causal knowledge base around ethical, cost-effective methods relevant to clinical practice. The knowledge base in this field is limited participant recruitment challenges; difficulty generalizing results from single-centre studies; lack of research culture; issues in managing research teams; incentives for descriptive research; and limited expertise in research design and working in multidisciplinary teams. APPROACH An Australian national multicentre collaboration is proposed to overcome these barriers, and reduce the burden of drug and alcohol misuse by increasing the number of high-quality clinical trials in this field. It would involve: selecting a representative sample of centres nation-wide with expertise in specific drug and alcohol issues; creating an expert multidisciplinary team to facilitate clinical trials; simultaneous recruitment and implementation of clinical trials across centres; establishing a virtual infrastructure; forming an independent data-integrity and methodology review panel; and attracting and allocating funding for clinical trials. IMPLICATIONS The ability to allocate funding, the involvement of multidisciplinary experts in drug and alcohol research, and the establishment of infrastructure and procedures are likely to result in the national multicentre group's capacity to prescribe the type of research conducted under its auspices. CONCLUSION The proposed initiative is likely to increase the volume of high-quality clinical trials in the Australian drug and alcohol field, a key step towards reducing the burden of drug and alcohol misuse.

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