Objective: The demand for family physicians (FPs) to participate in research is growing. The delicate balance between research participation and the daily practice routine might explain the often-disappointing number of patients recruited. We analyzed practice and physician characteristics associated with successful patient recruitment.
Study design: We used a survey to conduct this study.
Population: There was a total of 165 FPs who participated in a combined randomized clinical trial/cohort study on drug treatment of dyspepsia in the Netherlands.
Outcomes measured: We surveyed FPs about personal and practice characteristics and their motivation for participation in the project. These data were then related to the number of patients recruited. Univariate associations were calculated; relevant factors were entered into a logistic model that predicted patient recruitment.
Results: Data on 128 FPs could be analyzed (80% response rate); these FPs recruited 793 patients in the cohort study (mean = 6.3 per FP) and 527 in the clinical trial (mean = 4.2 per FP). The main reasons for participation were the research topic (59%) and the participation of an academic research group in the study (63%). Many FPs felt that participation was a professional obligation (39%); the financial incentive played a minor role (15%). The number of recruited patients was only independently associated with the participation of an academic research group.
Conclusions: Successful patient recruitment in primary care research is determined more by motivation driven by the research group than by financial incentives, the research topic, or research experience.