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Recruiting hard to reach populations to studies: breaking the silence: an example from a study that recruited people with dementia

Field, B; Mountain, G; Burgess, J; Di Bona, L; Kelleher, D; Mundy, J; Wenborn, J; (2019) Recruiting hard to reach populations to studies: breaking the silence: an example from a study that recruited people with dementia. BMJ Open , 9 (11) , Article e030829. 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030829. Green open access

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Abstract

Objective To share the challenges of recruiting people with dementia to studies, using experiences from one recently completed trial as an exemplar. Background Research publications always cite participant numbers but the effort expended to achieve the sample size is rarely reported, even when the study involved recruiting a hard to reach population. A multisite study of a psychosocial intervention for people with dementia illustrates the challenges. This study recruited 468 ‘dyads’ (a person with dementia and a family carer together) from 15 sites but the time taken to achieve this was longer than originally estimated. This led to a study extension and the need for additional sites. Recruitment data revealed that certain sites were more successful than others, but why? Can the knowledge gained be used to inform other studies? Methods Secondary analysis of routinely collected recruitment data from three purposefully selected sites was examined to understand the strategies used and identify successful approaches. Findings At all three sites, the pool of potential recruits funnelled to a few participants. It took two sites 18 months longer than the third to achieve recruitment numbers despite additional efforts. Explanations given by potential participants for declining to take part included ill health, reporting they were ‘managing’, time constraints, adjusting to a diagnosis of dementia and burden of study procedures. Conclusions Successful recruitment of people with dementia to studies, as one example of a hard to reach group, requires multiple strategies and close working between researchers and clinical services. It requires a detailed understanding of the needs and perspectives of the specific population and knowledge about how individuals can be supported to participate in research. Experiences of recruitment should be disseminated so that knowledge generated can be used to inform the planning and implementation of future research studies.

Type: Article
Title: Recruiting hard to reach populations to studies: breaking the silence: an example from a study that recruited people with dementia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030829
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030829
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Medicine, General & Internal, General & Internal Medicine, DISEASE, TRIALS
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117047
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