Database recruitment: a solution to poor recruitment in randomized trials?

Fam Pract. 2011 Jun;28(3):329-33. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmq108. Epub 2010 Dec 14.


Background: Achieving sample size is imperative to obtaining sufficient power to detect potential effects in health care research, yet many research studies are prone to under-recruitment. Not only does this create problems with power but also it contributes to research extensions, additional costs and delayed results. To combat this problem, one increasingly used technique is database recruitment, a method of searching the electronic medical records system for potential research participants.

Objective: We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of identifying potential research participants using database recruitment with particular reference to primary care.

Conclusion: Database recruitment is a relatively simple and affordable means to recruit large numbers of patients in a timely manner; however, it is not without limitations.

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy
  • Patient Selection*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / ethics
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Sample Size