Trial Forge Guidance 4: A guideline for reporting the results of randomised Studies Within A Trial (SWATs)

Catherine Ellen Arundel, Laura Kate Clark, Adwoa Parker, D Beard, Elizabeth Coleman, C Cooper, D Devane, S Eldridge, S Galvin, K Gillies, Catherine Elizabeth Hewitt, C Sutton, David John Torgerson, Shaun Treweek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence to support decisions on trial processes is minimal. One way to generate this evidence is to use a Study Within A Trial (SWAT) to test trial processes or explore methodological uncertainties. SWAT evidence relies on replication to ensure sufficient power and broad applicability of findings. Prompt reporting is therefore essential; however, SWAT publications are often the first to be abandoned in the face of other time pressures. Reporting guidance for embedded methodology trials does exist but is not widely used. We sought therefore to build on these guidelines to develop a straightforward, concise reporting standard, which remains adherent to the CONSORT guideline.

An iterative process was used to develop the guideline. This included initial meetings with key stakeholders, development of an initial guideline, pilot testing of draft guidelines, further iteration and pilot testing, and finalisation of the guideline.

We developed a reporting guideline applicable to randomised SWATs, including replications of previous evaluations. The guideline follows the Consolidated Standards for Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement and provides example text to ensure ease and clarity of reporting across all domains.

The SWAT reporting guideline will aid authors, reviewers, and journal editors to produce and review clear, structured reports of randomised SWATs, whilst also adhering to the CONSORT guideline.

Trial registration
EQUATOR Network – Guidelines Under Development ( Registered on 25 March 2021.
Original languageEnglish
Article number183
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2024

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