Background: First articulated by Schwartz and Lellouch (1967), randomized controlled trials (RCTs) can be conceptualized along a continuum from more explanatory to more pragmatic. The purpose and intent of the former is to test interventions under ideal contexts, and the purpose and intent of the latter is to test interventions in real-world contexts. The PRagmatic Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary-2 (PRECIS-2) is a validated tool that helps researchers make decisions about the elements of the trial to match the overall purpose and intent of the trial along the continuum. The PRECIS-2 tool has guided the design of hundreds of RCTs. However, a few aspects of the tool would benefit from greater clarity, including its application to provider-focused implementation trials rather than patient-focused intervention trials.
Main text: We describe the newly developed PRECIS-2-Provider Strategies (PRECIS-2-PS) tool, an extension of the PRECIS-2 tool, which has been adapted for trials testing provider-focused strategies. We elaborate on nine domains that can make a provider-focused trial more explanatory or more pragmatic, including eligibility, recruitment, setting, implementation resources, flexibility of provider strategies, flexibility of intervention, data collection, primary outcome, and primary analysis. We detail the complementary roles that researchers and stakeholders play in the trial design phase, with implications for generalizability of trial results to the contexts in which they are intended to be applied.
Conclusions: The PRECIS-2-PS tool is designed to help research and practice teams plan for provider-focused trials that reflect the overall intent and purpose of the trial. The tool has potential to help advance the science of provider-focused strategies across a range of trials, with the ultimate goal of facilitating the adoption, integration, and sustainability of provider-focused strategies outside the context of trials.
Keywords: Explanatory trials; Healthcare delivery research; Implementation science; Implementation strategies; Multi-level trials; PRECIS; Pragmatic trials; Randomized controlled trials.