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Protocol for a multi-site pilot and feasibility randomised controlled trial: Surgery versus PhysiothErapist-leD exercise for traumatic tears of the rotator cuff (the SPeEDy study)

Littlewood, C and Wade, J and Butler-Walley, S and Lewis, M and Beard, D and Rangan, A and Bhabra, G and Kalogrianitis, S and Kelly, C and Mehta, S and Singh, HP and Smith, M and Tambe, A and Tyler, J and Foster, NE (2021) Protocol for a multi-site pilot and feasibility randomised controlled trial: Surgery versus PhysiothErapist-leD exercise for traumatic tears of the rotator cuff (the SPeEDy study). Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 7 (1). ISSN 2055-5784

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Abstract

© 2021, The Author(s). Background: Clinically, a distinction is made between types of rotator cuff tear, traumatic and non-traumatic, and this sub-classification currently informs the treatment pathway. It is currently recommended that patients with traumatic rotator cuff tears are fast tracked for surgical opinion. However, there is uncertainty about the most clinically and cost-effective intervention for patients with traumatic rotator cuff tears and further research is required. SPeEDy will assess the feasibility of a fully powered, multi-centre randomised controlled trial (RCT) to test the hypothesis that, compared to surgical repair (and usual post-operative rehabilitation), a programme of physiotherapist-led exercise is not clinically inferior, but is more cost-effective for patients with traumatic rotator cuff tears. Methods: SPeEDy is a two-arm, multi-centre pilot and feasibility RCT with integrated Quintet Recruitment Intervention (QRI) and further qualitative investigation of patient experience. A total of 76 patients with traumatic rotator cuff tears will be recruited from approximately eight UK NHS hospitals and randomly allocated to either surgical repair and usual post-operative rehabilitation or a programme of physiotherapist-led exercise. The QRI is a mixed-methods approach that includes data collection and analysis of screening logs, audio recordings of recruitment consultations, interviews with patients and clinicians involved in recruitment, and review of study documentation as a basis for developing action plans to address identified difficulties whilst recruitment to the RCT is underway. A further sample of patient participants will be purposively sampled from both intervention groups and interviewed to explore reasons for initial participation, treatment acceptability, reasons for non-completion of treatment, where relevant, and any reasons for treatment crossover. Discussion: Research to date suggests that there is uncertainty regarding the most clinically and cost-effective interventions for patients with traumatic rotator cuff tears. There is a clear need for a high-quality, fully powered, RCT to better inform clinical practice. Prior to this, we first need to undertake a pilot and feasibility RCT to address current uncertainties about recruitment, retention and number of and reasons for treatment crossover. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04027205) – Registered on 19 July 2019. Available via.

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