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Table 3 Comparison of the most commonly cited strategies and design features to maximise recruitment and Booster project examples

From: Recruiting to a large-scale physical activity randomised controlled trial – experiences with the gift of hindsight

Feature/strategy Booster project examples
Newsletters/mail-outs/flyers (to clinical staff and/or patients) √ Mail-outs to participants
Regular visits/phone calls to wards/sites/practices √Visits were made to local GP surgeries, health trainers/champions and one-stop health shops
Posters/information leaflets in clinics/wards/notes √ Poster produced and displayed in GP surgeries
Inclusion criteria changed/protocol amended
Presentations to appropriate groups (e.g., at consults, meetings/community-based physiotherapists) √ Presentations made to relevant organisations, NHS, local authority on becoming involved
Resource manual for site staff/trained staff in disease area/procedures being investigated/role-play exercises/study day/workshops for recruiters √ Information provided to research assistants on recruitment
Advertisement/articles in newspapers/journals, radio interviews √ Trial manager publicity in the local press, newspaper and radio
Presentations at national/international meetings x
Employed extra staff √ Administrative assistants hired
Investigators/recruiting staff meetings √ Monthly meetings between trial manager and research assistants (in addition to monthly trial management group meetings), weekly email updates on recruitment
Training/information videos x
Incentives for recruiters (e.g., prize draw) √ Team rewarded at recruitment milestones
Trial material revised/simplified/customised for specific sites √ Participant information sheet altered due to reflect added secondary recruitment pathways
Visits to centres by PIs/senior members of study group √ Visits to local GP surgeries and to community venues
Repeated contact by phone/letter to individuals/sites √ Reminder phone calls to participants
Increased/changed time points when information provided to potential participants √ Additional mail-out conducted: extra letter to introduce main trial before screening call
Supportive statements from opinion leaders x Supportive statements from current participants rejected by local research ethics committee
Quality of study team/multi-disciplinary team √ Multi-disciplinary team from Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield
Involvement of a Clinical Trials Unit √ University of Sheffield Clinical Trials Unit, main collaborator in the trial
Trial manager √ Dedicated project manager, appropriate cover arranged at a later date due to maternity leave
Local recruitment co-ordinators x Centralised recruitment only
Feasibility work √ Pilot study recruitment conducted
Peer-reviewed study protocol √ Protocol publication
Simple study design x Brief intervention and main intervention
Service user input √ Expert elders attend design
Important research question with support of the clinical community √ Support of public health, physical activity professionals, GPs and research community
Drug trial/intervention only available in study √ Motivational interviewing not widely available in community
Appropriately funded √ HTA funding secured for 3 years
  1. GP general practitioner, HTA Health Technology Assessment, NHS National Health Service, PI principal investigator