Participation and successful patient recruitment in primary care

J Fam Pract. 2001 Nov;50(11):976.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Utilization
  • Dyspepsia / drug therapy
  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Motivation
  • Needs Assessment
  • Netherlands
  • Patient Selection*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physicians, Family / economics
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Research Support as Topic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Workload