Lessons learned from the DIG trial
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The Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial was the first large simple trial conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A large simple trial is a major undertaking. Simplification at the sites requires careful planning and discipline. Lessons learned from the DIG trial were: (1) keep a large simple trial very simple and keep all study procedures very simple; (2) ancillary studies are important and can complement a large simple trial but require careful advanced planning; (3) anticipate special needs when shipping study drugs internationally; (4) regional coordinating centers can be very useful; (5) recruit as many capable sites as possible; (6) provide research-inexperienced sites/investigators with extra help to obtain federalwide assurance statements from the Office for Human Research Protections and institutional review board approvals; (7) adequately reimburse sites for the work completed; (8) maintain investigator enthusiasm; (9) monitor the slow performers and sites with numerous personnel changes; (10) choose an endpoint that is easy to ascertain; (11) keep the trial simple for participants; and (12) plan early for closeout and for activities between the end of the trial and publication of results.
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