Our broad aim is to promote the use of research evidence for recruiting and following up with participants in randomised trials testing health treatments.
Trials are the best way to test how effective health treatments are. However, about half of all trials fail to recruit enough participants, and many participants drop out once they are recruited. These problems with recruitment and retention cause huge amounts of research waste that has been described as a scandal. Poor recruitment and retention have a human cost, too. A study of a COVID-19 trial found that if it had recruited 50% of all suitable patients instead of just 15% (typical for trials of its type), nearly 3000 more lives could have been saved in the UK alone, from patients receiving the effective treatment earlier.
A good way to test recruitment and retention strategies is to use a ‘Study Within A Trial’ (SWAT), which is a piece of research built into a ‘host’ trial. But not many SWATs have been done, and there are almost no effective and cost-effective strategies for recruiting and retaining participants in trials.
In the MRC-funded PROMETHEUS programme, we successfully showed that a recruitment or retention strategy can be tested across different host trials and patient groups at the same time to significantly speed up and increase the evidence base. However, researchers tend to not use evidence when planning recruitment and retention. This may be because there are no guidelines to support the use of evidence-based recruitment and retention strategies, so that the strategies that are effective are used, and those that are not effective are avoided.
We will use ‘implementation science’, which is the study of methods to promote the use of research findings. IMPLEMENT SWATs is a multi-methods programme and consists of five interlinked work packages:
|Funder:||This project is funded by the NIHR (Advanced Fellowship, reference: NIHR302256). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.|
|Sponsor:||University of York|
|Start Date:||July 2022|
|End Date:||June 2032|
To contact the IMPLEMENT SWATs team, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can contact individual team members using the contact details below: