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Table 1 Recruitment methods and outcomes

From: Evaluation of recruitment methods for a trial targeting childhood obesity: Families for Health randomised controlled trial

Recruitment method Amount or number of times Associated cost of recruitment method Number of families enquiring about the studya Number of families recruited Enquiries who were recruited
Active methods
Referral from health professional Health professionals (e.g. school nurses, hospital and community paediatricians, GPs, dieticians) were sent information and some professional meetings were attended by researchers (all sites) Cost to health professional: excess treatment costs 69 30 43.5 %
65 health professionals telephoned us with details of a potential family (from across all sites)
On four occasions, a researcher attended an obesity clinic and the doctor referred families to the researcher (hospital covering Sites A and B) Researcher time: 4 × ½ day plus travel
Targeted letter from health professional Families for Health information provided with NCMP letter to overweight and obese children from year 6 (age 10–11 years) (n = approximately 600, from both Site A and Site C) Postage 16 13 81.3 %
50 letters were sent by GPs to families of children identified on GP lists as being overweight or obese (Site C)
50 letters sent by Change4Life advisor to families on their case list (Site B)
Sub-total    85 43 50.6 %
Passive methods
School (poster, newsletter, flyer) All primary schools in Sites B and C contacted twice, in Site C three times. Researcher time for first contact: 2 days, second and third: ½ day 30 24 80 %
Contacts were a phone call on the first occasion, then emails. Flyers were sent out as requested by the schools. All schools were sent text that could be included in a school newsletter.
Postage or travel for delivering flyers
GP/hospital (poster, flyer) Posters and flyers were sent to local primary-care surgeries and hospitals × 2 (all sites) Postage 25 19 76 %
Community (poster, flyer) Posters were sent to community venues such as libraries, children’s centres and leisure centres × 3 (all sites) Postage 5 4 80 %
Flyer (unspecified) Flyers distributed using methods described above but no details from potential participants where flyer was seen   6 2 33 %
Public events 9 events (10 days) across all sites: Site A: 2 events; Site B: 2 events: Site C: 5 events (6 days) Researcher time (10 days) plus travel to event 17 9 52.9 %
Researcher attended public health and community events. This involved displaying information about the study, and scales and height meter to measure potential participants’ BMI. Families who had children with a high BMI were given further details of the study and contact details were taken if the family was interested in taking part.
Media (newspaper, radio, internet) 4 radio interviews (Sites A and B) Free 9 9 100 %
2 paid newspaper articles (Site C) Cost of articles
5 free newspaper or magazine articles (all sites) No cost incurred
Families for Health website No cost incurred
NHS and local authority website, Twitter (all sites) No cost incurred
Local newspaper Twitter feed No cost incurred
3 adverts in Primary Care Research Network (PCRN) newsletter No cost incurred
Word of mouth No cost incurred 7 5 71.4 %
Sub-total    99 72 72.7 %
Total    184 115 62.5 %
  1. aTen unknown (not included in figures)