Table 1

Characteristics of the trials included in the review

Characteristicn (%)
Trial design (n=151)
 Parallel129 (85)
 Factorial10 (7)
 Crossover1 (1)
 Other (patient preference/Zelen's)11 (7)
Arms (n=151)
 2101 (67)
 330 (21)
 413 (9)
 >47 (5)
Clinical area (n=151)
 Cancer/oncology8 (5)
 Mental health27 (18)
 Musculoskeletal19 (13)
 Obstetrics and gynaecology9 (6)
 Primary care7 (5)
 Cardiovascular12 (8)
 Gastrointestinal6 (4)
 Respiratory14 (9)
 Stroke4 (3)
 Diabetes4 (3)
 Dermatology (including ulcers)10 (7)
 Other*31 (21)
Setting (n=151)
 Hospital82 (54)
 General practice20 (13)
 Mixed25 (17)
 Community16 (11)
 Other†8 (5)
Intervention type (n=151)
 Drug intervention37 (25)
 Therapy36 (24)
 Surgery19 (13)
 Complex intervention13 (9)
 Other‡46 (30)
Control type (n=151)
 Placebo30 (20)
 Active121 (80)
Patient blinded? (n=147)
 No29 (19)
 Yes118 (79)
Centres outside the UK? (n=151)
 No138 (91)
 Yes13 (9)
Geographical spread (n=148)
 Multiple regions119 (80)
 Regional29 (20)
Some form of pilot§?
 Yes59 (41)
 No87 (60)
 Not stated5 (3)
  • *Alcohol abuse, chronic fatigue, nutrition, infectious diseases, paediatric (general, dermatology, anaesthesiology), gerontology, hepatology (hepatitis C), intensive care, multiple sclerosis, minor surgery, neurology (Bell's palsy, cerebral palsy epilepsy), neurosurgery, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, physical exercise, rehabilitation, resuscitation, sleep disorders, speech therapy, urology (general, urinary tract infections, incontinence, prostate disorders), vascular.

  • †HIV Clinical Centres, University Clinics, Sexual Health Clinics, Primary and Secondary Strike Care service, Intellectual Disability Services, Public Schools, Leisure Centres, Physical Therapy Classes and Specialist care centres.

  • ‡Technique, equipment, diagnostic intervention, advice and information, consultation, patient pathway, drug versus surgery, health professional.

  • §Any mention of pilot work or feasibility study recorded.