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Field trials of interventions against disease in low and middle income countries (LMICs) may be complex and expensive undertakings. Extensive preparation and planning is necessary for the conduct of a high quality trial, the results of which may be important in guiding public health practice. Journals rarely have space to allow publication of more than a brief summary of the preparations necessary for the trial and of the procedures devised for the successful execution of the trial and the analysis of the results. A consequence of this is that those planning field trials have few practical guidelines available to them, and investigators have to design a study, often with little access to the knowledge and experience that has been accumulated previously. Personal experience is a good teacher, but, all too often, investigators have learned by repeating the mistakes of previous field researchers, at considerable cost and inconvenience.

The 3rd edition of “Field Trials of Health Interventions: a Toolbox” attempts to fill this gap in the literature. It builds on the first two editions and has been comprehensively revised to take account of the evolution of methods that has taken place since the first edition in 1990. It has been compiled by over 30 contributors with extensive direct experience in the design, conduct, and analysis of field trials in LMICs, and it attempts to document their accumulated experience for the guidance of those who might undertake field trials of health interventions. It can be read in its entirety as an introduction to the field and/or can serve as a reference volume during each of the different stages of planning, conducting, and analysing a field trial.

In the new edition, the content of all the chapters that were included in the second edition have been updated taking into account the substantial developments in trial methodology that have taken place since the second edition was published in 1996. In addition, chapters have been added on topics that were incompletely covered previously, including new chapters on conducting systematic literature reviews, trial governance, preliminary studies and pilot testing, budgeting and accounting, intervention costing and economic analysis, and Phase IV studies.

The manual is available for purchase as a paperback for £20, but due to generous support from the Tropical Diseases Research programme of WHO and the Wellcome Trust, it has also been possible to make the whole book available, free of charge, as a downloadable pdf or a fully hyperlinked version is available online.

The pdf may be downloaded from this link and is available attached to the top right sidebar of this article.

The hyperlinked version may be accessed at Oxford Medicine Online