The best way of comparing healthcare treatments is through a randomised trial. In a randomised trial, we compare something (a treatment or intervention) to something else, often another treatment. Who gets what is decided at random, meaning everyone has an equal chance of getting any of the treatments. This means any differences found can be put down to the treatment received rather than other things, such as where people live, or health conditions they might have.
The People’s Trial aimed to help the public better understand randomised trials by inviting them to design and carry out a trial. The question chosen by the public for The People’s Trial was:
‘Does reading a book in bed make a difference to sleep, in comparison to not reading a book in bed?’
This paper describes that trial, called ‘The Reading Trial’.
The Reading Trial was an online, randomised trial. Members of the public were invited to take part through social media campaigns. People were asked to either read a book in bed before going to sleep (intervention group) or not read a book in bed before going to sleep (control group). We asked everyone to do this for 7 days, after which they measured their sleep quality.
During December 2019, a total of 991 people took part in The Reading Trial, half (496 (50%)) in the intervention group and half (495 (50%)) in the control group. Not everyone finished the trial: 127 (25.6%) people in the intervention group and 90 (18.18%) people in the control group.
Of those providing data, 156/369 (42%) people in the intervention group felt their sleep improved, compared to 112/405 (28%) of those in the control group, a difference of 14%. When we consider how certain we are of this finding, we estimate that, in The Reading Trial, sleep improved for between 8 and 22% more people in the intervention group compared to the control group.
Reading a book in bed before going to sleep improved sleep quality, compared to not reading a book in bed.
The People’s Trial team members acknowledge with gratitude the study
participants. We would also like to acknowledge and thank Claire O’Connell,
Simone Lepage, Aoife O’Shaughnessy and Louise Foley for their support with the research project.
This research was funded by the Health Research Board in Ireland, through the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network as part of a Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme Award 2018 (grant reference KEDS-2018-012).
The funder of the study had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report. The corresponding author had full access to all the data in the study and had final responsibility
for the decision to submit.
- Randomised trial
- Public engagement
- Research co-production