Telephone reminders are effective in recruiting nonresponding patients to randomized controlled trials

J Clin Epidemiol. 2004 Aug;57(8):773-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2003.12.015.


Objective: Studies investigating means of recruiting participants to randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are sparse. We investigated the effects of telephone reminders as a recruitment strategy.

Study design and setting: Sick-listed employees received a written invitation to participate in a study comparing standard treatments with a solution-focused follow-up and were randomly allocated to an intervention or control group (n=703). Those who did not respond within 2 weeks received either 'no reminder' (n=242) or 'attempted telephone reminder' (n=256). Outcome was enrollment to the RCT.

Results: An intention to recruit analysis revealed no significant differences between the groups (P=.229). An intention to phone analysis among nonresponders revealed significant differences between 'no reminder' (recruited 4.5%) and 'attempted telephone reminder' (recruited 12.1%) (P=.003, odds ratio 2.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.42-5.90). An analysis of numbers needed to phone showed that to recruit one more person in this group of nonresponders, we needed to phone 13 persons (95% CI=8-33).

Conclusion: Systematic use of telephone calls can increase the recruitment rate among nonresponders in RCTs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Selection
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Research Design
  • Sick Leave
  • Telephone*