ICNARC data provided linked outcomes for patients admitted to critical care for this vital clinical trial in COVID-19.


Respiratory Strategies in COVID-19; CPAP, High-flow, and Standard Care (RECOVERY-RS) was a randomised clinical trial, led by the University of Warwick and Queen’s University Belfast and funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, comparing three commonly used ways to support breathing for patients with COVID-19.

The trial found that patients who received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)—oxygen delivered with constant pressure through a tightly fitting mask—were less likely to require invasive mechanical ventilation or die than those that received conventional oxygen therapy. For every 12 people treated with CPAP instead of conventional oxygen therapy, one person would avoid needing invasive mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit.

There was no difference in the proportion of patients that went on to require invasive mechanical ventilation or die for those that received high flow nasal oxygen (HFNO)—high pressure oxygen delivered through tubes in the nose—compared with conventional oxygen therapy.

How ICNARC data were used

Data for participants in the RECOVERY-RS trial who were admitted to an intensive care unit were linked with their record in the Case Mix Programme to provide information on whether they received invasive mechanical ventilation (the primary outcome of the trial), how long they remained in an intensive care unit, and other information to help describe the patients and how severely ill they were.

“Using linked data from the Case Mix Programme provided high-quality, reliable data for the trial analyses while reducing the amount of data that needed to be collected directly by research staff in the participating hospitals. This allowed us to complete the trial as efficiently as possible.” – Professor Danny McAuley, Co-Chief Investigator of RECOVERY-RS and Scientific Director for NIHR Programmes.