Background and Purpose: There is limited evidence on head positioning in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) or intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Potential benefits for lying flat (0°) include improved collateral blood flow in AIS and for head up (30°) reduced cerebral oedema in ICH. The Head Positioning in Stroke Trial (HeadPoST) aims to provide reliable evidence on the optimum head position in acute stroke.
Methods: HeadPoST is a prospective, cluster randomised, crossover, blinded outcome assessed, clinical trial with consecutive patient recruitment who were positioned within 24 hours of admission. Hospitals were randomised to service organisation to compare lying flat vs. sitting up (≥30°) head positioning of stroke patients. An innovative centralized remote monitoring system was used to assess data quality across participating countries.
Results: Over a 30 month study period, 10,000+ patients were recruited across 114 hospitals in 9 countries. A web-based monitoring system provided alerts for cross-over time points and achievement of cluster balance. Centralised reports included serious adverse events, protocol deviations, forms completion, data queries, entry delays and data validation, which were distributed to regional co-ordinating centres for action. Details of these procedures are outlined.
Conclusions: Reliable, complete, and high quality data were required for this pragmatic international nursing care clinical trial, which used a novel cluster cross-over design.