Pilot studies

-professor question

– Good study, hope you became familiarized with pilot studies. How do you think pilot studies can shape the progression of randomized clinical trials? Thanks

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2-alberto alfonso

– Pilot studies are defined as small-scale, preliminary studies which purpose to investigate whether vital components of a main study – typically a randomized controlled trial (RCT) – will be possible. Pilot studies may be employed to forecast an appropriate sample size for the full-scale project and/or to improve upon various aspects of the study’s design. Often, randomized controlled trials are both time and money intensive, thus it is paramount that the researchers involved have confidence in the key steps they will take when undertaking the study to avoid time and resource wastage. A pilot study must answer a simple question: “Can the full-scale study be conducted in the way that has been planned or should some components be altered?” The reporting of pilot studies must be of high quality to allow readers to interpret the results and implications correctly.

In a pilot study by (Stanley, 2014) that explored the aptness of a questionnaire for discovering who the clinical nurse leaders are in a pediatric unit of a large NHS trust, and what the qualities of a clinical leader might be. Thirteen respondents made 24 separate nominations for clinical leaders, 20 of whom were grade ‘F’ junior sisters. They were seen as having the clinical leadership qualities of: coping well with change, integrity, supportiveness, valuing relationships, flexibility and clinical competence. These results highlighted aspects of clinical leadership in pediatrics and the value of conducting a pilot study.


The article, “Pilot study: Nursing Students’ Perceptions of the Environment in two Different Clinical Models,” Perry et al. (2016), evaluates the reliability and validity of a modified Dundee Ready Educational Environmental Measure tool in terms of how it assesses the effects of varying pedagogical measures within the clinical learning environmental on the perceptions of nursing students. The study was able to establish that there is a need for further research because it is impossible to establish a definitive and an inferential relationship between sub-scales and clinical models because the sample size is small (Perry et al., 2016). The article does meet the pilot study criteria because it is a preliminary study of what entails nursing students’ perceptions of the clinical environment based on two clinical models. Secondly, the study tests a full research experiment based on the m-DREEM tool which measures the effects of different pedagogical approaches within the clinical learning environment. The authors were able to establish that the tool provides a high internal consistency thus making it suitable for assessing the nursing students’ perceptions based five subscales of students’ learning perceptions, facilitators, academic self-perception, atmosphere, social self-perception, and mentorship (Perry et al., 2016). Thirdly, the study applies a small sample of 130 nursing students who were subjected to the assessment tool. This will help guide a much large study involving a much larger sample size. Fourthly, the result findings are geared towards rationalizing the need to study nursing students’ perceptions towards a larger study. In particular, the study involves five-subscales which ensure that the study is more comprehensive. Currently, there is not another subsequent large study by the same authors on nursing students’ perceptions. However, there have been other subsequent studies which evaluate factors that impact the learning space of nursing students as they interact with patients and other medical professionals which address similar issues.

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