Facilitating access to health research through a participatory research register: a feasibility study in outpatient clinics

Verity Leach, John Mcgeagh, Ruta Margelyte, Niamh Redmond, Axel Walther, Sabi Redwood, Richard Martin, Jenny Donovan

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

2 Citations (Scopus)
399 Downloads (Pure)


Background: A research register (Reach West) has been established to facilitate recruitment of people and patients to health-related research. We conducted a prospective feasibility study to investigate the practicality of recruiting through outpatient clinics.

Methods: Patients over 18 years of age attending dental, eye or oncology outpatient clinics in an acute hospital in the West of England were provided with the opportunity to participate in Reach West. In Phase I, recruitment packs were handed to clinic attendees who could place completed consent forms in secure drop-box or return them later on-line or by post. In Phase II, recruitment packs were posted directly to patients with consent forms to be returned by post or on-line. Response rates by age, sex, postcode (for level of deprivation), and clinic type were recorded for those agreeing to participate on paper or on-line.

Results: In Phase I, 2,314 of 4,500 (51.4%) of recruitment packs were handed out to clinic attendees, and 114 (5%)consented to join Reach West. In Phase II, 7,173 of 9000 packs were posted (79.7%), and 387 (5.4%) consented to participate. The overall consent rate was 6% (580), with the majority doing so on paper (87%) rather than on-line.The sample was balanced by sex, but mostly comprised people over 50 years located in less deprived postcodes.Non-staff costs for postal recruitment were lower than hand-outs in clinic (£6.84 compared with £8.05 per participant).

Conclusions: Recruiting participants to the Reach West register was feasible among those with oncology, dental or eye outpatient appointments by post or with packs given out in the clinic. Response rates were similar to those achieved for other registers. Recruitment of participants can be achieved through outpatient clinics but other strategies will also be required to attract large numbers of participants and more diverse populations.

Keywords: Research participation, Prospective consent, Research registers, Research database, Research governance, Data linkage
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2017


  • Research participation
  • Prospective consent
  • Research registers
  • Research database
  • Research governance
  • Data linkage


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  • NIHR BRC Nutrition

    Ness, A. R.


    Project: Research, Parent

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