Demands are increasingly being made for clinical trialists to actively share individual participant data (IPD) collected from clinical trials using responsible methods that protect the confidentiality and privacy of clinical trial participants. Clinical trialists, particularly those receiving public funding, are often concerned about the additional time and money that data-sharing activities will require, but few published empirical data are available to help inform these decisions. We sought to evaluate the activity and resources required to prepare anonymised IPD from a clinical trial in anticipation of a future data-sharing request.
Data from two UK publicly funded clinical trials were used for this exercise: 2437 participants with epilepsy recruited from 90 hospital outpatient clinics in the SANAD trial and 146 children with neuro-developmental problems recruited from 18 hospitals in the MENDS trial. We calculated the time and resources required to prepare each anonymised dataset and assemble a data pack ready for sharing.
The older SANAD trial (published 2007) required 50 hours of staff time with a total estimated associated cost of £3185 whilst the more recently completed MENDS trial (published 2012) required 39.5 hours of staff time with total estimated associated cost of £2540.
Clinical trial researchers, funders and sponsors should consider appropriate resourcing and allow reasonable time for preparing IPD ready for subsequent sharing. This process would be most efficient if prospectively built into the standard operational design and conduct of a clinical trial. Further empirical examples exploring the resource requirements in other settings is recommended.
SANAD: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Registry: ISRCTN38354748. Registered on 25 April 2003. MENDS: EU Clinical Trials Register Eudract 2006-004025-28. Registered on 16 May 2007. International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Registry: ISRCTN05534585/MREC 07/MRE08/43. Registered on 26 January 2007.