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Table 4 Additional strategies implemented by the research team

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

Strategy Outcome
Project manager attended an NIHR recruitment workshop. No additional suitable strategies to use in the Booster Study were presented.
Additional recruitment pathway added. General practices were supplied with invitation packs to pass on to potential participants during consultations who may be eligible. No reply cards were returned from participants who had received an invitation from their GP. There was no monitoring of the number of packs which were distributed to participants.
Time frame for recruitment was increased to maximise numbers, no extension required other research timescales were compounded. Recruitment time was increased to ensure an extra mail-out could be conducted. It was understood that these late recruits would not provide 9-month follow-up data. Timescales at the end of the study (e.g. analysis, write-up) were condensed to accommodate this.
Text messaging and email contact was introduced where possible to check for DVD use during the brief intervention. Managing incoming messages created new processes which were not managed effectively. The use of text messages and emails could not be used for screening calls, so a large amount of calls were still required. Strategy was phased out towards the end of recruitment.
Additional letter was sent to encourage those who had received the brief intervention and had increased their physical activity level to call in to complete main trial screening. Some participants called in, although it did not greatly reduce the amount of calls to be made; it did, however, reduce the ‘cold call’ nature, as participants were made aware they would be contacted again.
Two administrative assistants were employed on a part-time basis. Effective strategy to reduce administrative workload of RAs so that they had more time to concentrate on research-related activities. However, as administrative support was introduced at a later date, not all research activities where streamlined to use administrative support fully.
The final mail-out with smaller numbers and conducted whilst other project activities such as intervention delivery was less demanding. Hard copies of files were organised by the week when they needed to be called rather than their stage in the research. Tight deadlines for recruitment end were imposed. It was clearer to the RAs what they needed to focus on and by a specific date. This reduced drift in the project timescales, and calls were made on time and received multiple attempts.
Participants were called the day before the appointment as a reminder, and opportunity to rearrange if the participant could no longer attend was provided. It was felt that non-attendance still impacted the efficient use of room bookings and RA time.
  1. GP general practitioner, NIHR National Institute for Health Research, RA research assistant