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Using a business model approach and marketing techniques for recruitment to clinical trials

Overview of attention for article published in Trials, March 2011
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Using a business model approach and marketing techniques for recruitment to clinical trials
Published in
Trials, March 2011
DOI 10.1186/1745-6215-12-74
Pubmed ID

Alison M McDonald, Shaun Treweek, Haleema Shakur, Caroline Free, Rosemary Knight, Chris Speed, Marion K Campbell


Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are generally regarded as the gold standard for evaluating health care interventions. The level of uncertainty around a trial's estimate of effect is, however, frequently linked to how successful the trial has been in recruiting and retaining participants. As recruitment is often slower or more difficult than expected, with many trials failing to reach their target sample size within the timescale and funding originally envisaged, the results are often less reliable than they could have been. The high number of trials that require an extension to the recruitment period in order to reach the required sample size potentially delays the introduction of more effective therapies into routine clinical practice. Moreover, it may result in less research being undertaken as resources are redirected to extending existing trials rather than funding additional studies.Poor recruitment to publicly-funded RCTs has been much debated but there remains remarkably little clear evidence as to why many trials fail to recruit well, which recruitment methods work, in which populations and settings and for what type of intervention. One proposed solution to improving recruitment and retention is to adopt methodology from the business world to inform and structure trial management techniques.We review what is known about interventions to improve recruitment to trials. We describe a proposed business approach to trials and discuss the implementation of using a business model, using insights gained from three case studies.

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Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 2 2%
Sweden 1 <1%
Australia 1 <1%
Unknown 111 97%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 22 19%
Student > Master 18 16%
Student > Ph. D. Student 17 15%
Student > Bachelor 11 10%
Student > Postgraduate 7 6%
Other 23 20%
Unknown 17 15%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 39 34%
Business, Management and Accounting 18 16%
Nursing and Health Professions 6 5%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 6 5%
Psychology 6 5%
Other 19 17%
Unknown 21 18%