Cluster identification, selection, and description in cluster randomized crossover trials: the PREP-IT trials Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background In cluster randomized crossover (CRXO) trials, groups of participants (i.e., clusters) are randomly allocated to receive a sequence of interventions over time (i.e., cluster periods). CRXO trials are becoming more comment when they are feasible, as they require fewer clusters than parallel group cluster randomized trials. However, CRXO trials have not been frequently used in orthopedic fracture trials and represent a novel methodological application within the field. To disseminate the early knowledge gained from our experience initiating two cluster randomized crossover trials, we describe our process for the identification and selection of the orthopedic practices (i.e., clusters) participating in the PREP-IT program and present data to describe their key characteristics. Methods The PREP-IT program comprises two ongoing pragmatic cluster randomized crossover trials (Aqueous-PREP and PREPARE) which compare the effect of iodophor versus chlorhexidine solutions on surgical site infection and unplanned fracture-related reoperations in patients undergoing operative fracture management. We describe the process we used to identify and select orthopedic practices (clusters) for the PREP-IT trials, along with their characteristics. Results We identified 58 potential orthopedic practices for inclusion in the PREP-IT trials. After screening each practice for eligibility, we selected 30 practices for participation and randomized each to a sequence of interventions (15 for Aqueous-PREP and 20 for PREPARE). The majority of orthopedic practices included in the Aqueous-PREP and PREPARE trials were situated in level I trauma centers (100% and 87%, respectively). Orthopedic practices in the Aqueous-PREP trial operatively treated a median of 149 open fracture patients per year, included a median of 11 orthopedic surgeons, and had access to a median of 5 infection preventionists. Orthopedic practices in the PREPARE trial treated a median of 142 open fracture and 1090 closed fracture patients per year, included a median of 7.5 orthopedic surgeons, and had access to a median of 6 infection preventionists. Conclusions The PREP-IT trials provide an example of how to follow the reporting standards for cluster randomized crossover trials by providing a clear definition of the cluster unit, a thorough description of the cluster identification and selection process, and sufficient description of key cluster characteristics. Trial registration Both trials are registered at (A-PREP: NCT03385304 December 28, 2017, and PREPARE: NCT03523962 May 14, 2018).


  • Sprague, Sheila Ann
  • Scott, Taryn
  • Dodds, Shannon
  • Pogorzelski, David
  • McKay, Paula
  • Harris, Anthony D
  • Wood, Amber
  • Thabane, Lehana
  • Bhandari, Mohit
  • Mehta, Samir
  • Gaski, Greg
  • Boulton, Christina
  • Marcano-Fernández, Francesc
  • Guerra-Farfán, Ernesto
  • Hebden, Joan
  • O’Hara, Lyndsay M
  • Slobogean, Gerard P

publication date

  • December 2020

published in