The STIFF-F study has finished and the results have been submitted for publication. The summary below gives a brief overview of the study and the key findings.
The shin can break in several pieces which requires a difficult operation: either putting a nail in the bone or a frame outside the leg. We do not know which operation is better, previous research has not provided clear answers.
Aims and Objectives
The best way to find out if one treatment is better is to compare the two in a randomised controlled trial. The aim of the STIFF-F study was to see if running this trial would be possible.
STIFF-F aimed to recruit 50 patients in a pilot study, to see how a randomised trial could work in practice. The study also conducted interviews with patients and staff to understand the injury and pilot more. Finally, the study surveyed staff about hospital rehabilitation pathways.
Six hospitals opened for the pilot, and three patients were recruited. Twenty-three interviews took place, and eleven physiotherapists completed the survey.
The study found that:
1. The injury was rarer than expected
2. Staff tend to prefer one operation, and do not want to act outside of their skillset since the injury is so complex
3. Staff and patients perceive a big difference between the two operations and their recovery.
4. Logistical issues around setting up the study were a barrier to recruiting patients.
Dissemination, outputs and impact
The study team plan to publish the findings on related websites and in an academic journal. The results will also be presented at relevant conferences.
Patient and public involvement
Patients were involved in the design of this study, and helped to develop the patient-facing study materials.
Conclusions and future plans
In conclusion, comparing nails and frames in a randomised trial is currently not possible. However the difficulties found here could help similar research in the future.