Design, analysis, and reporting of pilot studies in HIV: a systematic review and methodological study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractBackgroundPilot studies are essential in determining if a larger study is feasible. This is especially true when targeting populations that experience stigma and may be difficult to include in research, such as people with HIV. We sought to describe how pilot studies have been used to inform HIV clinical trials.MethodsWe conducted a methodological study of pilot studies of interventions in people living with HIV published until November 25, 2020, using Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Controlled Register of Trials (CENTRAL). We extracted data on their nomenclature, primary objective, use of progression criteria, sample size, use of qualitative methods, and other contextual information (region, income, level, type of intervention, study design).ResultsOur search retrieved 10,597 studies, of which 248 were eligible. The number of pilot studies increased steadily over time. We found that 179 studies (72.2%) used the terms “pilot” or “feasibility” in their title, 65.3% tested feasibility as a primary objective, only 2% used progression criteria, 23.9% provided a sample size estimation and only 30.2% used qualitative methods.ConclusionsPilot studies are increasingly being used to inform HIV research. However, the titles and objectives are not always consistent with piloting. The design and reporting of pilot studies in HIV could be improved.


  • El-Khechen, Hussein Ali
  • Khan, Mohammed Inam Ullah
  • Leenus, Selvin
  • Olaiya, Oluwatobi
  • Durrani, Zoha
  • Masood, Zaryan
  • Leenus, Alvin
  • Akhter, Shakib
  • Mbuagbaw, Lawrence

publication date

  • November 30, 2021