Detailed systematic analysis of recruitment strategies in randomised controlled trials in patients with an unscheduled admission to hospital

Ceri Rowlands, Leila Rooshenas*, Katherine Fairhurst, Jonathan Rees, Carrol Gamble, Jane M. Blazeby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
326 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives To examine the design and findings of recruitment studies in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving patients with an unscheduled hospital admission (UHA), to consider how to optimise recruitment in future RCTs of this nature. Design Studies within the ORRCA database (Online Resource for Recruitment Research in Clinical TriAls; www. orrca. org. UK) that reported on recruitment to RCTs involving UHAs in patients >18 years were included. Extracted data included trial clinical details, and the rationale and main findings of the recruitment study. Results Of 3114 articles populating ORRCA, 39 recruitment studies were eligible, focusing on 68 real and 13 hypothetical host RCTs. Four studies were prospectively planned investigations of recruitment interventions, one of which was a nested RCT. Most recruitment papers were reports of recruitment experiences from one or more 'real' RCTs (n=24) or studies using hypothetical RCTs (n=11). Rationales for conducting recruitment studies included limited time for informed consent (IC) and patients being too unwell to provide IC. Methods to optimise recruitment included providing patients with trial information in the prehospital setting, technology to allow recruiters to cover multiple sites, screening logs to uncover recruitment barriers, and verbal rather than written information and consent. Conclusion There is a paucity of high-quality research into recruitment in RCTs involving UHAs with only one nested randomised study evaluating a recruitment intervention. Among the remaining studies, methods to optimise recruitment focused on how to improve information provision in the prehospital setting and use of screening logs. Future research in this setting should focus on the prospective evaluation of the well-developed interventions to optimise recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere018581
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2018

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Surgical Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Detailed systematic analysis of recruitment strategies in randomised controlled trials in patients with an unscheduled admission to hospital'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • ConDuCT-II

    Blazeby, J.


    Project: Research

Cite this