Accurate safety monitoring in HIV vaccine trials is vital to eventual licensure and consequent uptake of products. Current practice in preventive vaccine trials, under the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), is to capture related side effects in a hardcopy tool. The reconciliation of this tool, 2 weeks after vaccination at the safety visit, is time consuming, laborious, and fraught with error. Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), commonly used to purchase airtime, has been suggested for collection of safety data in vaccine trials. With saturated access to mobile phones in South Africa, this cheap, accessible tool may improve accuracy and completeness of collected data and prove feasible and acceptable over the hardcopy tool.
The objective of our study is to develop and implement a USSD tool for real-time safety data collection that is feasible and acceptable to participants and staff, allowing for a comparison with the hardcopy tool in terms of completeness and accuracy.
This feasibility study is being conducted at a single study site, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa eThekwini Clinical Research site, in South Africa. The feasibility study is nested within a parent phase 1/2a preventive HIV vaccine trial (HVTN 108) as an open-label, randomized controlled trial, open to all consenting parent trial participants. Participants are randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to the hardcopy or USSD tool, with data collection targeted to the third and fourth injection time points in the parent trial. Online feasibility and acceptability surveys will be completed by staff and participants at the safety visit. We will itemize and compare error rates between the hardcopy tool and the USSD printout and associated source documentation. We hypothesize that the USSD tool will be shown to be feasible and acceptable to staff and participants and to have superior quality and completion rates to the hardcopy tool.
The study has received regulatory approval. We have designed and developed the USSD tool to include all the data fields required for reactogenicity reporting. Online feasibility and accessibility surveys in both English and isiZulu have been successfully installed on a tablet. Data collection is complete, but analysis is pending.
Several HIV preventive vaccine trials are active in Southern Africa, making tools to improve efficiencies and minimize error necessary. Our results will help to determine whether the USSD tool can be used in future vaccine studies and can eventually be rolled out.
ClincalTrials.gov NCT02915016; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02915016 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/71h0cztDM)