Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Comparative Study
. 2018 Apr;21(2):494-500.
doi: 10.1111/hex.12642. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Patient-initiated Recruitment for Clinical Research: Evaluation of an Outpatient Letter Research Statement

Free PMC article
Comparative Study

Patient-initiated Recruitment for Clinical Research: Evaluation of an Outpatient Letter Research Statement

Matthias Wienroth et al. Health Expect. .
Free PMC article


Background: UK Hospital Trusts are charged with increasing patients' research awareness and willingness to take part in research. This includes implementing strategies to encourage patient-initiated enquiries about participation.

Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a research statement inserted in outpatient letters in one clinical service, and to derive suggestions on potential steps towards increasing patient-initiated recruitment.

Setting: A medical outpatient clinic of a research-active hospital trust, serving an inner-city multi-ethnic population across two boroughs.

Methods: Pre-intervention and post-intervention questionnaires were administered face-to-face to new patients. Questionnaires included closed questions and one open comments section. Data were analysed for frequencies, with thematic coding of open-ended responses.

Results: The response rates were 87% for the pre-intervention survey and 92% for the post-intervention survey. In the post-intervention survey, 85% of patients did not notice the research statement in the letter. More than half found the statement "a little unclear," whilst one-third considered it "clear." Three-quarters of respondents perceived the statement to be "a little helpful." Only one person enquired about participating in clinical research having read the statement in the outpatient letter.

Conclusion: The analysis suggests that simple, single-solution approaches such as including research statements in outpatient letters are unlikely to be sufficient to significantly facilitate patient-initiated recruitment. Recruitment efforts need to take into consideration the diversity of patient constituencies including the reasons they seek health care, and how patients can meaningfully access information (research literacy).

Keywords: clinical research; patient recruitment; research literacy.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Pre‐intervention survey
Figure 2
Figure 2
Post‐intervention survey

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 1 article


    1. Goodare H, Smith R. The rights of patients in research. BMJ. 1995;310:1277‐1278. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Goodare H, Lockwood S. Involving patients in clinical research improves the quality of research. BMJ. 1999;319:724‐725. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Treweek S, Mitchell E, Pitkethly M, et al. Strategies to improve recruitment to randomised controlled Trials. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(4):5. - PubMed
    1. Malby R, Hamer S. Creating an Innovation and Research Culture in a Complex System. London: National Institute for Health Research; 2016.
    1. NIHR . 2013. Mystery shopper campaign highlights NHS shortcomings in promoting clinical research (press release 10 January 2013). Accessed April 7, 2017.

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources