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Seizure First Aid Training for people with Epilepsy (SAFE) frequently attending emergency departments and their significant others: Results of a UK multi-centre randomised controlled pilot trial

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Adam J. Noble, Dee Snape, Sarah Nevitt, Emily A. Holmes, Myfanwy Morgan, Catrin Tudur-Smith, Dyfrig A. Hughes, Mark Buchanan, Jane McVicar, Elizabeth MacCallum, Steve Goodacre, Leone Ridsdale, Anthony G. Marson

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere035516
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2020

King's Authors


Objective To determine the feasibility and optimal design of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of Seizure First Aid Training For Epilepsy (SAFE). Design Pilot RCT with embedded microcosting. Setting Three English hospital emergency departments (EDs). Participants Patients aged ≥16 with established epilepsy reporting ≥2 ED visits in the prior 12 months and their significant others (SOs). Interventions Patients (and their SOs) were randomly allocated (1:1) to SAFE plus treatment-as-usual (TAU) or TAU alone. SAFE is a 4-hour group course. Main outcome measures Two criteria evaluated a definitive RCT's feasibility: (1) ≥20% of eligible patients needed to be consented into the pilot trial; (2) routine data on use of ED over the 12 months postrandomisation needed securing for ≥75%. Other measures included eligibility, ease of obtaining routine data, availability of self-report ED data and comparability, SAFE's effect and intervention cost. Results Of ED attendees with a suspected seizure, 424 (10.6%) patients were eligible; 53 (12.5%) patients and 38 SOs consented. Fifty-one patients (and 37 SOs) were randomised. Routine data on ED use at 12 months were secured for 94.1% patients. Self-report ED data were available for 66.7% patients. Patients reported more visits compared with routine data. Most (76.9%) patients randomised to SAFE received it and no related serious adverse events occurred. ED use at 12 months was lower in the SAFE+TAU arm compared with TAU alone, but not significantly (rate ratio=0.62, 95% CI 0.33 to 1.17). A definitive trial would need ∼674 patient participants and ∼39 recruitment sites. Obtaining routine data was challenging, taking ∼8.5 months. Conclusions In satisfying only one predetermined a stop/go' criterion, a definitive RCT is not feasible. The low consent rate in the pilot trial raises concerns about a definitive trial's finding's external validity and means it would be expensive to conduct. Research is required into how to optimise recruitment from the target population. Trial registration number ISRCTN13871327.

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