"You Need to Be a Good Listener": Recruiters' Use of Relational Communication Behaviors to Enhance Clinical Trial and Research Study Accrual

J Health Commun. 2017 Feb;22(2):95-101. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2016.1256356. Epub 2017 Jan 13.


Medical and research professionals who discuss clinical trials and research studies with potential participants face an often daunting challenge, particularly when recruiting from minority and underserved populations. This study reports on findings from a focus group study of 63 research coordinators, study nurses, professional recruiters, and other professionals in Indianapolis, IN and Miami, FL who work to recruit from minority and underserved populations. These professionals discussed the importance of creating a sense of connection with potential participants as part of the recruitment and retention process. Building a relationship, however fleeting, involved a number of concrete behaviors, including listening to personal information, expressing empathy, and then providing reciprocal self-disclosures; having repeated contact, usually by working in the same environment over an extended period of time; demonstrating respect through politeness and the use of honorifics; going the extra mile for participants; offering flexibility in scheduling follow-up appointments; and creating a sense of personal and community trust by being truthful. The implications of these findings for clinical trial and research study accrual are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Indiana
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups
  • Patient Selection*
  • Research Personnel / psychology*
  • Research Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Researcher-Subject Relations*
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Young Adult