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Dental caries is common in young people and has wide-ranging ramifications for health and quality of life. Text messaging interventions show promise as a means to promote oral health behaviour change among young people. This paper reports the internal pilot of the Brushing RemInder 4 Good oral HealTh (BRIGHT) trial, which is evaluating an intervention comprising an oral health classroom lesson and text messages about toothbrushing, on caries in young people. Pilot trial objectives were to evaluate the feasibility and appropriateness of recruitment and data collection methods, the randomisation strategy, and intervention delivery against progression criteria for the main trial.
This is an internal pilot trial embedded within an assessor-blinded, two-arm, cluster randomised controlled trial. Participants were pupils aged 11–13 years (in year 7/S1 or year 8/S2) in secondary schools in England, Scotland, and Wales with above average pupil eligibility for free school meals. Following completion of pupil baseline questionnaires and dental assessments, year groups within schools were randomised to the intervention or control arm. Approximately 12 weeks later, participants completed a follow-up questionnaire, which included questions about sources of oral health advice to assess intervention contamination between year groups. At the end of the pilot phase, trial conduct was reviewed against pre-specified progression criteria.
Ten schools were recruited for the pilot, with 20 year groups and 1073 pupils randomised (average of 54 pupils per year group). Data collection methods and intervention delivery were considered feasible, the response rate to the follow-up questionnaire was over 80%, there was an indication of a positive effect on self-reported toothbrushing, and interest was obtained from 80% of the schools required for the main trial. Despite partial intervention contamination between year groups, within-school randomisation at the level of the year-group was considered appropriate for the main trial, and the sample size was revised to account for partial contamination. Facilitators and barriers to recruitment and data collection were identified and strategies refined for the main trial.
Progression to the main trial of BRIGHT, with some design refinements, was concluded. The internal pilot was an efficient way to determine trial feasibility and optimise trial processes.
ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN12139369, registered 10/05/2017
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2023
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