Optimised clinical study recruitment in palliative care: success strategies and lessons learned.


Northern Ireland Hospice, Belfast, UK [Email]


Recruitment challenges to clinical research studies in palliative care settings, particularly in hospices, are well documented. However, a recent study (Hospice Inpatient Deep vein thrombosis Detection (HIDDen) study) performed across five hospices in the UK recruited above target and on time. We describe strategies that aided successful recruitment in this study, and the lessons learnt for improving future studies. A recent review suggested that the 'Social Marketing Mix Framework' (SMMF) could help researchers with recruitment strategies in palliative care. We describe the recruiting strategies employed through the Social Marketing Mix lens and consider if it would be a useful framework for future researchers to use at the planning stage. Successful recruitment strategies employed in HIDDen study included: (i) addressing particular study-related factors, (ii) ensuring all patients were screened and offered participation if eligible, (iii) reducing impact on the clinical team through dedicated research nurses at sites, (iv) addressing research team issues with cross-cover between sites, where geographically possible, and (v) regular video conferencing meetings for support and collaborative solving of challenges. Limited pre-existing research infrastructure at most of the recruiting hospices created particular challenges. The SMMF provides a potential structure to help researchers to plan recruitment. However, to fully streamline trial set up and in order for hospice involvement in research to be realised systematically, a centralised approach to governance, organisational culture change whereby hospices embrace research as a legitimate purpose and consistent access to research staff are identified as key strategic elements promoting recruitment to studies in hospices.


Social Marketing Mix Framework,clinical study,hospice,palliative,recruitment,