Recruitment for a clinical trial of chronic disease self-management for older adults with multimorbidity: a successful approach within general practice
1 Discipline of General Practice, Flinders Prevention Promotion and Primary Health Care Cluster, Flinders University, Health Sciences Building, Level 3, Registry Road, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia
2 Social Health Science, Flinders Prevention Promotion and Primary Health Care Cluster, Flinders University, Sturt Building, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia
3 National Institute of Labour Studies, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Flinders University, Social Sciences North Building, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia
BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:125 doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-125Published: 28 August 2013
A robust research base is required in General Practice. The research output for General Practice is much less than those of other clinical disciplines. A major impediment to more research in this sector is difficulty with recruitment. Much of the research in this area focuses on barriers to effective recruitment and many projects have great difficulty with this process. This paper seeks to describe a systematic approach to recruitment for a randomized controlled trial that allowed the study team to recruit a substantial number of subjects from General Practice over a brief time period.
A systematic approach to recruitment in this setting based on prior literature and the experience of the investigator team was incorporated into the design and implementation of the study. Five strategies were used to facilitate this process. These included designing the study to minimize the impact of the research on the day-to-day operations of the clinics, engagement of general practitioners in the research, making the research attractive to subjects, minimizing attrition and ensuring recruitment was a major focus of the management of the study.
Outcomes of the recruitment process were measured as the proportion of practices that agreed to participate, the proportion of potentially eligible subjects who consented to take part in the trial and the attrition rate of subjects. Qualitative interviews with a subset of successfully recruited participants were done to determine why they chose to participate in the study; data were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Five out of the six general practices contacted agreed to take part in the study. Thirty-eight per cent of the 1663 subjects who received a letter of invitation contacted the university study personnel regarding their interest in the project. Recruitment of the required number of eligible participants (n = 256) was accomplished in seven months. Thematic analysis of interviews with 30 participants regarding key factors in their study participation identified a personalised letter of endorsement from their general practitioner, expectation of personal benefit and altruism as important factors in their decision to participate.
Recruitment can be successfully achieved in General Practice through design of the research project to facilitate recruitment, minimize the impact on general practice operations and ensure special care in enrolling and maintaining subjects in the project.