BACKGROUND: Individual participant data (IPD) from completed clinical trials should be responsibly shared to support efficient clinical research, generate new knowledge and bring benefit to patients. The Medical Research Council (MRC) Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (HTMR) has developed guidance to facilitate the sharing of IPD from publicly funded clinical trials.
METHODS: Development of the guidance was completed over four phases which included a focussed review of policy documents, a web-based survey of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (CRC) Registered Clinical Trials Units (CTU) Network, participation of an expert committee and an open consultation with the UKCRC Registered CTU Network. The project was funded by the MRC HTMR (MR/L004933/1-R39).
RESULTS: Good practice principles include: (i) the use of a controlled access approach, using a transparent and robust system to review requests and provide secure data access; (ii) seeking consent for sharing IPD from trial participants in all future clinical trials with adequate assurance that patient privacy and confidentiality can be maintained; and (iii) establishing an approach to resource the sharing of IPD which would include support from trial funders, sponsor organisations and users of IPD. The guidance has been endorsed by Cancer Research UK, MRC Methodology Research Programme Advisory Group, Wellcome Trust and the Executive Group of the UKCRC Registered CTU Network. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has confirmed it is supportive of the application of this guidance.
CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of these principles will improve transparency, increase the coherent sharing of IPD from publicly funded trials, and help publicly funded trials to adhere to trial funder and journal requirements for data sharing.