September 10, 2018 by Marcus O'Neill MSC RD
A Research Coordinator’s Perspective
Having worked as a research coordinator for several years now, there are a certain strategies I employ when recruiting families and individuals to participate in our research projects. Being open and honest about study details and time commitments, being as flexible as possible when it comes to appointment times and having a general friendly disposition are all important factors when trying to enroll people into your research studies.
But, I’ve come to realize a key to maximizing recruitment actually has less to do with the interaction you have with prospective participants and more to do with the relationships that you, as a researcher, foster with the clinicians and administrative staff at your clinic.
What exactly do I mean by fostering relationships with clinic staff? It’s more than simply making them aware of your study and giving them whatever instructions they might need to help you out, although of course, this is important too. To truly build a relationship with clinic staff it’s important that you put yourself in their shoes and try to minimize the impact your research has on their daily responsibilities. That means whenever possible you should be flexible regarding your appointments with participants so that other clinic appointments can be accommodated and have have face-to-face communication with staff in advance about participants you’d like to recruit. Essentially, it’s key to demonstrate that you respect your clinic staff’s time and effort in helping you with your study. It may sound simplistic, but in my experience, this acknowledgement really does help.
Due to this approach, since RMI-Family recruitment began I can think of several instances where clinicians came to me (unsolicited I might add!) to ask me if I had interest in speaking with a patient they were seeing to pitch them about research. These are families that for whatever reason I might have missed in my screening or simply not had expected to have time to meet with. I can say with certainty that I have recruited more families than I would have without our clinic staff’s help.
And speaking of recruitment…
Now would be a good time to give a brief update on the RMI-Family study at the Edmonton site from these past few months. Recruitment has been going quite well. Today we enrolled our 19th family to participate in RMI-Family. Of those consented, we have completed/booked initial visits with 17. So far 11 have been recruited from our full program (L3s) and 8 from those who are seeing our outpatient dietitian only (L2s). In addition to our baseline visits, we have also started booking 6 month follow up visits (with one completed) for our earliest participants.