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Clin Trials. 2020 Jan 27:1740774519893301. doi: 10.1177/1740774519893301. [Epub ahead of print]

How do clinical research coordinators learn Good Clinical Practice? A mixed-methods study of factors that predict uptake of knowledge.

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Bioethics Research Center, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.



Good Clinical Practice is an international standard for the design and conduct of clinical trials to ensure ethical and scientific integrity. Recent National Institutes of Health policy mandates Good Clinical Practice training for all investigators and staff involved in National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trials, yet approaches to Good Clinical Practice training vary widely. There are limited data on Good Clinical Practice knowledge among the clinical trial workforce and no evidence regarding effective methods to learn Good Clinical Practice.


We used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. We conducted 18 exploratory qualitative interviews with clinical research coordinators to help inform the development of the quantitative survey. We then administered a validated 32-item, multiple-choice test of Good Clinical Practice knowledge with a survey of work and training experiences to 625 clinical research coordinators at three academic medical centers in the United States. Variables that were significantly associated with Good Clinical Practice knowledge were entered into a multiple regression analysis to identify unique predictors of Good Clinical Practice knowledge. We controlled for verbal-numerical reasoning and learning orientation.


During qualitative interviews, clinical research coordinators reported that formal Good Clinical Practice training had value but they simultaneously emphasized the importance of experience, day-to-day practice, and observing colleagues and mentors as essential to supplement formal training. In our quantitative survey, five variables predicted a total of 22% of variance in Good Clinical Practice knowledge scores: years of experience as a clinical research coordinator, working on diverse types of trials, supporting industry-funded trials, being certified in clinical research coordination, and aggregated hours of online and face-to-face training (in that order).


The duration and richness of experience as a clinical research coordinator were the strongest predictors of Good Clinical Practice knowledge, a finding consistent with our exploratory qualitative interview results. Our findings suggest that formal online and face-to-face training has a minimal influence on Good Clinical Practice knowledge. The type of training-whether online or face to face-does not make a significant difference in Good Clinical Practice knowledge scores. Much of the variance in Good Clinical Practice knowledge remains unexplained, calling for further research in this area.


Good Clinical Practice; clinical research coordinators; knowledge


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