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Recruiting and retaining GPs and patients in intervention studies: the DEPS-GP project as a case study.

Williamson MK, Pirkis J, Pfaff JJ, Tyson O, Sim M, Kerse N, Lautenschlager NT, Stocks NP, Almeida OP - BMC Med Res Methodol (2007)

Bottom Line: Recruiting and retaining GPs for research can prove difficult, and may result in sub-optimal patient participation where GPs are required to recruit patients.Anecdotally, participating GPs agreed to be involved because they had an interest in the topic, believed the study would not impinge too greatly on their time, and appreciated the professional recognition afforded by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points associated with study participation.A summary of effective and ineffective methods for recruitment and retention is provided.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Australia. m.williamson@unimelb.edu.au

ABSTRACT

Background: Recruiting and retaining GPs for research can prove difficult, and may result in sub-optimal patient participation where GPs are required to recruit patients. Low participation rates may affect the validity of research. This paper describes a multi-faceted approach to maximise participation of GPs and their patients in intervention studies, using an Australian randomised controlled trial of a depression/suicidality management intervention as a case study. The paper aims to outline experiences that may be of interest to others considering engaging GPs and/or their patients in primary care studies.

Methods: A case study approach is used to describe strategies for: (a) recruiting GPs; (b) encouraging GPs to recruit patients to complete a postal questionnaire; and (c) encouraging GPs to recruit patients as part of a practice audit. Participant retention strategies are discussed in light of reasons for withdrawal.

Results: The strategies described, led to the recruitment of a higher than expected number of GPs (n = 772). Three hundred and eighty three GPs (49.6%) followed through with the intent to participate by sending out a total of 77,820 postal questionnaires, 22,251 (28.6%) of which were returned. Three hundred and three GPs (37.0%) participated in the practice audit, which aimed to recruit 20 patients per participating GP (i.e., a total of 6,060 older adults). In total, 5,143 patients (84.9%) were represented in the audit.

Conclusion: Inexpensive methods were chosen to identify and recruit GPs; these relied on an existing database, minor promotion and a letter of invitation. Anecdotally, participating GPs agreed to be involved because they had an interest in the topic, believed the study would not impinge too greatly on their time, and appreciated the professional recognition afforded by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points associated with study participation. The study team established a strong rapport with GPs and their reception staff, offered clear instructions, and were as flexible and helpful as possible to retain GP participants. Nonetheless, we experienced attrition due to GPs' competing demands, eligibility, personnel issues and the perceived impact of the study on patients. A summary of effective and ineffective methods for recruitment and retention is provided.

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Summary of retention of general practitioner participants from recruitment through postal questionnaire and practice audit.
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Figure 1: Summary of retention of general practitioner participants from recruitment through postal questionnaire and practice audit.

Mentions: Figure 1 provides a summary of the number of GPs participating at each stage of the process and therefore the retention of participants at each stage. Table 1 shows a more detailed breakdown of participation by state. Our sampling and recruitment strategy yielded 772 GPs who indicated that they were willing to participate in the project. This exceeded our original aim of 480 GPs, and equated to an initial overall response rate of 4.1%. These figures underestimate the true response rates because, as previously noted, the denominators are inflated due to the over-inclusive nature of the database of practitioners.


Recruiting and retaining GPs and patients in intervention studies: the DEPS-GP project as a case study.

Williamson MK, Pirkis J, Pfaff JJ, Tyson O, Sim M, Kerse N, Lautenschlager NT, Stocks NP, Almeida OP - BMC Med Res Methodol (2007)

Summary of retention of general practitioner participants from recruitment through postal questionnaire and practice audit.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2147023&req=5

Figure 1: Summary of retention of general practitioner participants from recruitment through postal questionnaire and practice audit.
Mentions: Figure 1 provides a summary of the number of GPs participating at each stage of the process and therefore the retention of participants at each stage. Table 1 shows a more detailed breakdown of participation by state. Our sampling and recruitment strategy yielded 772 GPs who indicated that they were willing to participate in the project. This exceeded our original aim of 480 GPs, and equated to an initial overall response rate of 4.1%. These figures underestimate the true response rates because, as previously noted, the denominators are inflated due to the over-inclusive nature of the database of practitioners.

Bottom Line: Recruiting and retaining GPs for research can prove difficult, and may result in sub-optimal patient participation where GPs are required to recruit patients.Anecdotally, participating GPs agreed to be involved because they had an interest in the topic, believed the study would not impinge too greatly on their time, and appreciated the professional recognition afforded by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points associated with study participation.A summary of effective and ineffective methods for recruitment and retention is provided.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Australia. m.williamson@unimelb.edu.au

ABSTRACT

Background: Recruiting and retaining GPs for research can prove difficult, and may result in sub-optimal patient participation where GPs are required to recruit patients. Low participation rates may affect the validity of research. This paper describes a multi-faceted approach to maximise participation of GPs and their patients in intervention studies, using an Australian randomised controlled trial of a depression/suicidality management intervention as a case study. The paper aims to outline experiences that may be of interest to others considering engaging GPs and/or their patients in primary care studies.

Methods: A case study approach is used to describe strategies for: (a) recruiting GPs; (b) encouraging GPs to recruit patients to complete a postal questionnaire; and (c) encouraging GPs to recruit patients as part of a practice audit. Participant retention strategies are discussed in light of reasons for withdrawal.

Results: The strategies described, led to the recruitment of a higher than expected number of GPs (n = 772). Three hundred and eighty three GPs (49.6%) followed through with the intent to participate by sending out a total of 77,820 postal questionnaires, 22,251 (28.6%) of which were returned. Three hundred and three GPs (37.0%) participated in the practice audit, which aimed to recruit 20 patients per participating GP (i.e., a total of 6,060 older adults). In total, 5,143 patients (84.9%) were represented in the audit.

Conclusion: Inexpensive methods were chosen to identify and recruit GPs; these relied on an existing database, minor promotion and a letter of invitation. Anecdotally, participating GPs agreed to be involved because they had an interest in the topic, believed the study would not impinge too greatly on their time, and appreciated the professional recognition afforded by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points associated with study participation. The study team established a strong rapport with GPs and their reception staff, offered clear instructions, and were as flexible and helpful as possible to retain GP participants. Nonetheless, we experienced attrition due to GPs' competing demands, eligibility, personnel issues and the perceived impact of the study on patients. A summary of effective and ineffective methods for recruitment and retention is provided.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus