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Emergency care
Contemporary communication in a clinical trial
  1. Mark M Mikhail1,
  2. Rebecca Shirley1,
  3. Abhilash Jain2,3,
  4. Justin Conrad Rosen Wormald1,2
  1. 1 Department of Plastic Surgery, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, UK
  2. 2 Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
  3. 3 Department of Plastic Surgery, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr.  Mark M Mikhail, Plastic Surgery, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury HP21 8AL, UK; markmikhail{at}

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Recruitment to clinical trials requires efficient and timely identification of suitable participants. Trial coordination and recruitment can be difficult in practice and can result in appropriate participants being missed. Communication between the core trial team and the recruiters ‘on the ground’ ensures all potentially eligible participants are identified and approached for recruitment.1 Much has been published regarding the use of smartphone-based communication tools in clinical care, including considerations of clinical governance and data. We present our experience of using the smartphone communication app: ‘WhatsApp’ to manage the logistics of a surgical randomised controlled trial.

WhatsApp is advantageous in that it is easy to download and operate2 given that 80%–98% of clinicians own a smartphone,3 4 Furthermore, unlike email, it is an immediate communication tool with the potential for multiple group conversations with members able to contribute simultaneously and contemporaneously. It is also inclusive of all trial team members allowing everyone to be updated with the trial progress and ‘on-the-ground’ issues in real time.

Our experience is drawn from the observation of two UK-based plastic surgery tertiary centres running a multicentre hand trauma surgery trial involving paediatric patients: The Nail bed INJury …

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  • Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to the concept, preparation and review of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.