Open Access Open Badges Research article

Enhancing field GP engagement in hospital-based studies. Rationale, design, main results and participation in the diagest 3-GP motivation study

Christophe Berkhout1*, Marie Vandaele-Bétancourt1, Stéphane Robert1, Solène Lespinasse1, Gamil Mitha1, Quentin Bradier1, Anne Vambergue2 and Pierre Fontaine2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Medicine, University of Lille Nord de France – Lille 2, Faculty of Medicine, 59045, Lille Cedex, France

2 Department of Endocrinology, Clinique Médicale, Claude Huriez Hospital, Regional and Academic Hospital Centre, 2 avenue Oscar Lambret, 59037, Lille Cedex, France

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BMC Family Practice 2012, 13:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-63

Published: 21 June 2012



Diagest 3 was a study aimed at lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 3 years after childbirth. Women with gestational diabetes were enrolled in the study. After childbirth, the subjects showed little interest in the structured education programme and did not attend workshops. Their general practitioners (GPs) were approached to help motivate the subjects to participate in Diagest 3, but the GPs were reluctant. The present study aimed to understand field GPs’ attitudes towards hospital-based studies, and to develop strategies to enhance their involvement and reduce subject drop-out rates.


We used a three-step process: step one used a phenomenological approach exploring the beliefs, attitudes, motivations and environmental factors contributing to the GPs’ level of interest in the study. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews and coded by hand and with hermeneutic software to develop distinct GP profiles. Step two was a cross-sectional survey by questionnaire to determine the distribution of the profiles in the GP study population and whether completion of an attached case report form (CRF) was associated with a particular GP profile. In step three, we assessed the impact of the motivation study on participation rates in the main study.


Fifteen interviews were conducted to achieve data saturation. Theorisation led to the definition of 4 distinct GP profiles. The response rate to the questionnaire was 73%, but dropped to 52% when a CRF was attached. The link between GP profiles and the rate of CRF completion remains to be verified. The GPs provided data on the CRF that was of comparable quality to those collected in the main trial. Our analysis showed that the motivation study increased overall participation in the main study by 23%, accounting for 16% (24/152) of all final visits for 536 patients who were initially enrolled in the Diagest 3 study.


When a hospital-led study explores issues in primary care, its design must anticipate GP participation early in the trial. Based on our questionnaire response rates, we found that one in two GPs were willing to participate in our hospital-led study, regardless of their initial attitudes.

General practice; Biomedical research; Behavioural research; Research design; Cooperative behaviour; Social identification