Aim To formulate hypotheses about effective ways of recruiting and retaining practices to clinical trials, based on a case study.
Design of study Case study of practice recruitment and retention to a trial of delivering antenatal sickle cell and thalassaemia screening.
Setting Two UK primary care trusts with 123 practices, with a high incidence of sickle cell and thalassaemia, and high levels of social deprivation.
Method Practices were invited to take part in the trial using a research information sheet for practices. Invitations were sent to all practice managers, GPs, practice nurses, and nurse practitioners. Expenses of approximately £3000 per practice were available. Practices and the research team signed research activity agreements, detailing a payment schedule based on deliverables. Semi-structured interviews were completed with 20 GPs who participated in the trial. Outcome measures were the number of practices recruited to, and completing, the trial.
Results Four practices did not agree to randomisation and were excluded. Of 119 eligible practices, 29 expressed an interest in participation. Two practices withdrew from the trial and 27 participated (two hosted pilot studies and 25 completed the trial), giving a retention rate of 93% (27/29). The 27 participating practices did not differ from non-participating practices in list size, number of GPs, social deprivation, or minority ethnic group composition of the practice population.
Conclusion Three factors appeared important in recruiting practices: research topic, invitation method, and interest in research. Three factors appeared important in retaining practices: good communication, easy data-collection methods, and payment upon meeting pre-agreed targets. The effectiveness of these factors at facilitating recruitment and retention requires assessment in experimental studies.
- clinical trials
- primary health care