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Table 4 Patient identification, recruitment, and engagement strategies

From: Lessons learned from Integrated Management Program Advancing Community Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (IMPACT-AF): a pragmatic clinical trial of computerized decision support in primary care

Strategies with positive impact

Offered PCPs detailed instructions on methods to identify potentially eligible participants via query of the provider’s EMR using billing codes or medications fields

Created a standardize form that providers could fax to the provincial administrative billing system which would query their historical billing codes and generate a list of potential patients to invite, with costs of this query covered by the study office

Created and shared a telephone script which provider’s office staff could use to contact patients and obtain a verbal consent to be contacted by the study office, who could then explain the study and consent the participant

Offered a “no-survey option” for patients who initially declined participation (i.e., highlight that the completion of patient questionnaires and the 12-month diary were voluntary)

Employed various strategies to recognize and incentivize PCPs that were top patient recruiters (e.g., Thank you letters, study update communications, special invitation to participate in a “Canadian Science Forum” investigator event)

Sought guidance from top recruiting PCPs on the methods they had utilized to successfully recruit their patients (these details informed revisions to various patient communication tools)

Developed and published mainstream media communications to create awareness of the study, including multiple interviews with news outlets (television, radio) and opinion piece submissions to both local community-based and provincial newspapers

Utilized study and non-study (e.g., stakeholder partners’) social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, a dedicated study website ( and other sites (e.g., “Kijiji”) to promote the study

Hired a public relations summer student to support communication efforts

Strategies with little to no impact

Invited consented study patients to speak with relatives and friends about the study

Offered in-office visits by study staff to facilitate introductory and consent discussions with eligible patients

Created a faxable letter to community pharmacies to potentially identify patients prescribed oral anticoagulant (warfarin or non-vitamin K antagonist) therapy

Provision of pre-stuffed information packages with postage and instructions on ways to generate a mailing list that the provider could use to distribute information pamphlets

Provision of information pamphlets and posters that could be placed in providers’ offices as well as community blood collection sites

Created customized yet personalized letters using the provider’s office logo/letter head (with their consent) to accompany the patient information pamphlets handed and or mailed out

Provided routine status updates to PCPs on their recruitment stats, as well as that of their peers and the study overall

Strategies with negative impact

Conducted follow-up telephone calls with study participants