A study by Oxford BRC-supported researchers has identified the main challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of participants in surgical trials in the UK.
The study was part of the PIRRIST project, which aims to enhance recruitment and retention in surgical trials by involving patients and the public in developing the trials.
It was published in BJS Open, the open access journal of the British Journal of Surgery Society.
The findings of the study have already contributed to the development of PPI (Patient and Public Involvement) guidance for UK surgical trials aimed at improving recruitment and retention of participants.
Using an online survey of surgical trial staff from a wide range of medical specialties, the Oxford team, in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Aberdeen, Bristol and Liverpool, were able to establish that among the most common recruitment issues were: patients – or clinicians – preferring one treatment over another and clinicians’ time constraints. The most problematic recruitment issue was a lack of eligible patients.
Among the most common retention issues were: participants forgetting to return questionnaires; participants being found to be ineligible for the trial; and lengthy follow‐up period. The most problematic retention issues were participants forgetting to return questionnaires and insufficient research nurse time or funding.
Dr Joanna Crocker, who leads the PIRRST project, said: “Many of the issues identified in our survey were experienced by a majority of participating UK surgical trial staff, demonstrating there are common challenges across surgical trials, despite a wide variety of medical specialties.
“We hope that highlighting these important issues will help towards designing more robust surgical trials in future.