Designing clinical trials for future space missions as a pathway to changing how clinical trials are conducted on Earth

Mona Nasser, Nicholas Peres, Jacqui Knight, Agatha Haines, Charlie Young, Diego Maranan, Julian Wright, Philip Carvil, Karen Robinson, Matthew Westmore, Joanna Griffin, Matthew Halkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The project aims to build a framework for conducting clinical trials for long-term interplanetary missions to contribute to innovation in clinical trials on Earth, especially around patient involvement and ownership. Methods: We conducted two workshops in which participants were immersed in the speculative scenario of an interplanetary mission in which health problems emerged that required medical trials to resolve. The workshops used virtual reality and live simulation to mimic a zero-gravity environment and visual perception shifts and were followed by group discussion. Results: Some key aspects for the framework that emerged from the workshops included: (a) approaches to be inclusive in the management of the trial, (b) approaches to be inclusive in designing the research project (patient preference trials, n-of-1 trials, designing clinical trials to be part of a future prospective meta-analysis, etc), (c) balancing the research needs and the community needs (eg, allocation of the participants based on both research and community need), (d) ethics and partnerships (ethics and consent issues and how they relate to partnerships and relationships). Conclusion: In identifying some key areas that need to be incorporated in future planning of clinical trials for interplanetary missions, we also identified areas that are relevant to engaging patients in clinical trials on Earth. We will suggest using the same methodology to facilitate more in-depth discussions on specific aspects of clinical trials in aerospace medicine. The methodology can be more widely used in other areas to open new inclusive conversations around innovating research methodology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evidence-Based Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • clinical trial
  • clinical trial methodology
  • evidence-based healthcare
  • medical simulation
  • research methodology
  • space mission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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