Developing a survey of barriers and facilitators to recruitment in randomized controlled trials

Trials. 2012 Nov 21;13:218. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-13-218.


Background: Recruitment to randomized controlled trials is known to be challenging. It is important to understand and identify predictors of good or poor accrual to a clinical trial so that appropriate strategies can be put in place to overcome these problems and facilitate successful trial completion. We have developed a survey tool to establish the recruitment experience of clinical teams regarding facilitators and barriers to recruitment in a clinical trial and describe herein the method of developing the questionnaire.

Methods: A literature search was conducted to identify studies that have explored facilitators and barriers to recruitment, and a list of potential factors affecting recruitment to a clinical trial was generated. These factors were categorized in terms relating to the (i) trial, (ii) site, (iii) patient, (iv) clinical team, (v) information and consent and (vi) study team. A list was provided for responders to grade these factors as weak, intermediate or strong facilitators or barriers to recruitment.

Results: A web-based survey questionnaire was developed. This survey was designed to establish the recruitment experience of clinical teams with regard to the perceived facilitators and barriers to recruitment, to identify strategies applied to overcome these problems, and to obtain suggestions for change in the organization of future trials. The survey tool can be used to assess the recruitment experience of clinical teams in a single/multicenter trial in any clinical setting or speciality involving adults or children either in an ongoing trial or at trial completion. The questionnaire is short, easy to administer and to complete, with an estimated completion time of 11 minutes.

Conclusions: We have presented a robust methodology for developing this survey tool that provides an evidence-based list of potential factors that can affect recruitment to a clinical trial. We recommend that all clinical trialists should consider using this tool with appropriate trial-specific adaptations to monitor and improve recruitment performance in an ongoing trial or conduct the survey at trial completion to gather information on facilitators and barriers to recruitment that can form the basis of interventions and strategies to improve recruitment to future clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires