Objective: To test the effect of publicity on recruitment to a randomized trial. Recruitment is often poor in trials. Publicity within recruitment packs might be an inexpensive method of increasing recruitment. We tested this in two quasi-randomized trials.
Study design: In a primary care setting, within the context of a randomized trial of falls prevention, we allocated participants to receive a newspaper article about the study with their information sheet. The first trial compared one newspaper article against no article; the second compared a more favorably written article against the original.
Results: In the first study 4,488 participants were allocated into two groups. The response rate was 102 and 97 in the intervention and control groups, respectively (4.55% vs. 4.32%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -0.98, 1.43); the recruitment rate was 73 and 71, respectively, the difference not being statistically significant. In the second study 2,745 were allocated into two groups with a response rate of 75 and 69 for the control and intervention groups, respectively (5.46% vs. 5.03%, 95% CI: -1.24, 2.09); the recruitment rate was 57 and 54, respectively, the difference not being statistically significant.
Conclusion: These two large experiments revealed no evidence of effect of publicity on recruitment rates.