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Recruit & Retain Participants

Cost-Effectiveness of Health Research Study Participant Recruitment Strategies: A Systematic Review

This article synthesized findings from health research studies that evaluated the cost and effectiveness of different recruitment strategies to inform investigators on designing cost-efficient clinical trials. Researchers identified 10 randomized studies that compared recruitment strategies, including monetary incentives (cash or prize), direct contact (letters or telephone call), and medical referral strategies. Only two of the 10 studies compared strategies for recruiting participants to clinical trials. Researchers found that allocating additional resources to recruit participants using monetary incentives or direct contact yielded between 4 percent and 23 percent more participants, compared to using neither strategy. For medical referral, recruitment of prostate cancer patients by nurses was cost-saving compared to recruitment by consultant urologists. For all study designs, monetary incentives cost more than direct contact with potential participants. Only monetary incentives and source of referral were evaluated for recruiting participants into clinical trials. The authors concluded that systematic and explicit reporting of cost and effectiveness of recruitment strategies from randomized comparisons is required to aid investigators to select cost-efficient strategies for recruiting participants to health research studies including clinical trials.

Huynh L, Johns B, Liu SH, et al. Cost-effectiveness of health research study participant recruitment strategies: A systematic review. Clinical Trials 2014;11(5):576-583.

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