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Strategies for recruiting patients to focus groups in primary care: a case study reflective paper using an analytical framework

By Jane Dyas, Tanefa Apekey, Michelle Tilling and Aloysius Niroshan Siriwardena


Background: Recruiting to primary care studies is complex. With the current drive to increase numbers of patients involved in primary care studies, we need to know more about successful recruitment approaches. There is limited evidence on recruitment to focus group studies, particularly when no natural grouping exists and where participants do not regularly meet. The aim of this paper is to reflect on recruitment to a focus group study comparing the methods used with existing evidence using a resource for research recruitment, PROSPeR (Planning Recruitment Options: Strategies for Primary Care).\ud Methods: The focus group formed part of modelling a complex intervention in primary care in the Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment (REST) study. Despite a considered approach at the design stage, there were a number of difficulties with recruitment. The recruitment strategy and subsequent revisions are detailed.\ud Results: The researchers' modifications to recruitment, justifications and evidence from the literature in support of them are presented. Contrary evidence is used to analyse why some aspects were unsuccessful and evidence is used to suggest improvements. Recruitment to focus group\ud studies should be considered in two distinct phases; getting potential participants to contact the researcher, and converting those contacts into attendance. The difficulty of recruitment in primary care is underemphasised in the literature especially where people do not regularly come together,\ud typified by this case study of patients with sleep problems.\ud Conclusion: We recommend training GPs and nurses to recruit patients during consultations.\ud Multiple recruitment methods should be employed from the outset and the need to build topic\ud related non-financial incentives into the group meeting should be considered. Recruitment should\ud be monitored regularly with barriers addressed iteratively as a study progresses

Topics: A300 Clinical Medicine
Publisher: BioMed Central
Year: 2009
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