Do red Smarties make you happier? New study published in APJPH describes a fun method to learn about clinical study design


A clinical trial to assess the effect of red smarties was used as an active learning approach to epidemiology and critical appraisal; concepts students and health professional often find ‘dull’ and ‘boring’.

A bowl of yellow, green, and orange, hard chocolate covered candies. Shot from above on a blue background.


A team of authors from APACPH member institution, Queensland University of Technology – QUT in Brisbane Australia conducted a mock randomised control trial (RCT) with learners in three countries. The RCT involved learners blindly eating red Smarties candy (intervention) compared to yellow smarties (control) to determine whether the red Smarties increased happiness. Audience response technology ‘clickers’ were paired with participants’ trial ‘treatment’ packages. The clickers were used to produce data for in-class analysis and to identify the learners’ experience. The publication offers insights into this innovative authentic teaching approach and the effect of red Smarties.

The abstract and full article is available from the Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health and is was also shared in a media release.

Baker, P. R., Francis, D. P., & Cathcart, A. (2017). A Mock Randomized Controlled Trial With Audience Response Technology for Teaching and Learning Epidemiology. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, 29(3), 229-240