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Table 7 Location and summary of effectiveness of recruitment efforts

From: Lessons learned from recruiting socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers into a pilot randomized controlled trial to explore the role of Exercise Assisted Reduction then Stop (EARS) smoking

Workplace site Relative success and qualitative observations
Local adult education and training provider Total recruited = 0. Despite being followed-up on after initial provision of information, nobody came forward expressing an interest in the study. Location was identified as an attempt to target the unemployed and low skilled. A general feeling that the information became lost amongst lots of other available information.
Post Office Manual Data Entry Centre (MDEC) Total recruited = 0. After initial meeting and briefing with the personnel manager, information was distributed at team meetings to all employees (n = 500. Despite following up with the personnel manager, nobody came forward expressing an interest. No confirmation of the quality of information that was cascaded to all employees; uncertainty over how well or enthusiastically the information was distributed. Likely to have been a low priority among the managers and a potential burden on their time.
Educational site
Local primary school Total recruited = 0. A small article about the study published and distributed to parents within the newsletter failed to attract any interest. Potentially intended to target single parents, but likely to be too broad an approach which people took little notice of as the information became lost amongst other more relevant information in the newsletter. Potentially out of place in the school letter context.
Mother and toddler groups; several local children’s centers Total recruited = 0. Intended to target single parents as much as possible, the mother and toddler groups consisted of relatively low numbers, not all of whom were smokers. Small amounts of interest were shown, but researchers reported that the mothers’ focus was on their children and they were generally not very receptive to the information being offered. Researcher potentially viewed as an ‘outsider’.
Community site/organization
Job centre (Devonport) Total recruited = 1. Intended to target the unemployed, one person was recruited into the trial from approximately 100 information packs being distributed. Researcher found it to be quite an ‘intrusive’ activity on people smoking outside the job centre and met with some degree of hostility. Reported a sense that people would take the information just to get them to ‘go away’. A feeling that people were not very receptive to the information as they were there for other reasons with other pressing concerns. Potentially being viewed as ‘an outsider’.
Local community hub cafe Total recruited = 0. Intended to target the unemployed and low skilled. Researchers reported a feeling that the people attending this location had multiple other serious issues (housing, drug addiction, and so on) which made them unreceptive to the information on offer. For most, smoking behaviour was not a high priority.
Local community cooperative organization Total recruited = 0. Reports that once the information had been handed over and staff briefed about the study, it would quickly become a low priority among staff given information for distribution.
YMCA (community-run gym) Total recruited = 0. No idea on the number of smokers actually using the service. Potential again for the enthusiasm for promoting the study to be lost once the information is left with those outside the study team, despite follow-up attempts.
Local gym Total recruited = 0. Impression that promoting the study was a very low priority for the gym instructors, with no interest being generated.
Local social club Total recruited = 2. The contact at the small local social club was very proactive and involved with the study. They had their own motivation to promote healthy initiatives to the local community and as such generated interest. The comparative success of this location was reported to be solely due to the individual’s motivation for promoting the study and encouraging their service users to take part.
Public health Total recruited = 0. Similar reports to other groups where information was left for groups attended by potential participants - not all attending were smokers, and with relatively low numbers attending, no interest was generated.
Three Local Housing Associations Total recruited = 0. Potential for information to be dropped to houses which had already received an invitation via their GP. This type of invitation possibly lacked the ‘authority’ of the invitation coming directly from their GP.
Neighborhood Managers (City Council) Total recruited = 0. It was again reported that whilst enthusiasm was high amongst the neighborhood managers when meeting with the research team, the study took a very low priority for what is a very busy work force.
Local community learning centre Total recruited = 0. Intended to target the unemployed and low skilled, it was unpredictable how many people would attend the sessions at which the researchers provided information and again not all attendees would be smokers. Potentially seen as ‘an outsider’.
Other
Local library Total recruited = 0. No way of knowing how many people read or saw the information on display. Potential for information to become lost amongst swathes of other information.
Heart Radio/Plymouth Sound/Radio Devon/Newspaper Total recruited = 0. Broad awareness of the study was generated and interest attracted from people too far outside the study areas to be offered inclusion. The approach was not targeted enough at the disadvantaged groups intended.
Word of mouth Total recruited = 0. Proved to be ineffective, attracting no interest. Potentially due to lack of motivation on an individual level in promoting the study; potentially could be improved by incentivizing referral.
Individual contacts (such as minister of religion, local day support facility member, and publican) Total recruited = 1. One person recruited opportunistically through a researcher’s local contact. Relatively small reach via this approach and again reliant on individual promotion of study by people outside the study team.
Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies Service (IAPT), Plymouth Total recruited = 0. Intended to target those with mental health problems. Systems for recruiting and referring individuals were problematic and at times convoluted (due to data protection). Communication between the research team and IAPT was difficult as there was a sense that the study was a low priority for the practitioners who had other issues to deal with.
Posters displayed around local shops and businesses Total recruited = 0. Generally reported to be wholly ineffectual, assumed to be due to individuals’ lack of motivation to take the initiative and contact the research team directly.