Randomised controlled trials are at the cutting edge of medical research and discovery. A new film has been released which dissects how trials are run and looks at their essential role in discovering which treatments work. It uses the award-winning FEAST trial as an example.
FEAST was a large randomised controlled trial examining the effectiveness of fluid resuscitation for treating children with severe infections in Africa. The results of the trial came as a huge surprise to everyone involved in emergency care for children, as it showed that a treatment widely used in rich countries was actually harmful to children in Africa.
The film asked members of the trial team who were treating the patients what they thought the result would be, and documented their surprise when they found out the results. It is a compelling reminder that our observations are not always a reliable way of telling if something works. We need randomised controlled trials to provide high quality evidence about the effectiveness of treatments, so that doctors can make the right choices when treating patients.