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The Ottawa Statement implementation guidance document for cluster randomized trials in the hemodialysis setting.

Research teams are increasingly interested in using cluster randomized trial (CRT) designs to generate practice-guiding evidence for in-center maintenance hemodialysis. However, CRTs raise complex ethical issues. The Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomized Trials, published in 2012, provides 15 recommendations to address ethical issues arising within 7 domains: justifying the CRT design, research ethics committee review, identifying research participants, obtaining informed consent, gatekeepers, assessing benefits and harms, and protecting vulnerable participants. But applying the Ottawa Statement recommendations to CRTs in the hemodialysis setting is complicated by the unique features of the setting and population. Here, with the help of content experts and patient partners, we co-developed this implementation guidance document to provide research teams, research ethics committees, and other stakeholders with detailed guidance on how to apply the Ottawa Statement recommendations to CRTs in the hemodialysis setting, the result of a 4-year research project. Thus, our work demonstrates how the voices of patients, caregivers, and all stakeholders may be included in the development of research ethics guidance.

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