The Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway has today announced the results of The People’s Trial. The study is one of the first of its kind to involve members of the public in co-creating their own online randomised trial.
The overall aim of The People’s Trial is to support the public’s understanding of randomised trials and their processes, so that the public can be better informed as to why clinical trials are important and how they can be used to answer important health questions. Randomised trials are instrumental in providing reliable and robust evidence on the benefits, harms and costs of health care, so that people can make informed choices.
Using an online, custom-built, platform, the People’s Trial team at NUI Galway handed every step of the trial process over to members of the public, from selecting the question the trial should try to answer and developing the trial design, to carrying out the trial and reporting its findings. In that way, the public became citizen scientists and carried out their own randomised trial.
People representing over 40 countries across the world decided that The People’s Trial would try to find out the answer to:
Does reading a book in bed make a difference to sleep compared to not reading in bed?
During December 2019, almost 1,000 members of the public from 43 countries agreed to take part in a trial to help tackle this question. These 991 people were put into one of two groups: 496 (50%) went into the ‘reading a book in bed’ group (the Intervention Group) and 495 (50%) went into the ‘not reading a book in bed’ group (the Control Group).
Categorisation of participants in each group was decided by chance (called randomisation), which meant that everyone had an equal chance of being in the Intervention Group or in the Control Group. Participants were asked to participate in their category for seven consecutive days.
Overall, it was found that reading a book in bed before going to sleep improved sleep. 42% (156 people) in the ‘reading a book in bed’ group felt their sleep improved compared to 28% (112 people) in the ‘not reading a book in bed’ group.
Professor Declan Devane, Scientific Director of the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network, NUI Galway, said: “We set out to meaningfully involve the public in designing, conducting and sharing the findings of their own randomised trial. Over 3,000 members of the public, from 72 countries, participated in The People’s Trial. This shows that initiatives such as this can help the public learn about randomised trials, to understand why they matter, and to be better equipped to think critically about how health research is conducted.”
“We are delighted that so many people got involved and because they did, we are able to make a reliable claim that in people similar to those who took part in this trial, reading a book in bed before sleeping, in the manner done in this trial, has a positive effect on quality of sleep compared to not reading a book in bed. Personally, I’m going to start reading in bed again!”
The study is funded by the Health Research Board under the Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme Award.