Interventions to improve retention in a surgical, clinical trial: A pragmatic, stakeholder-driven approach

J Evid Based Med. 2018 Feb;11(1):12-19. doi: 10.1111/jebm.12271. Epub 2018 Jan 22.


Objective: To explore stakeholder perspectives upon participant retention in clinical trials, and to generate strategies to support retention in a surgical, clinical trial.

Study design and setting: The SWIFFT trial is a multicenter study comparing treatments for the fracture of the waist of the scaphoid bone in adults. Here we report upon a multistage, iterative consultative process with SWIFFT stakeholders, these include workshops with members of the public, with nurses involved in data collection, and with consultant clinicians. Structured discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed, data were handled and analyzed following a framework approach to qualitative data analysis.

Results: Removing practical barriers were identified as important factors in supporting retention. Stakeholders also identified that (i) how well a study is understood and (ii) how much it is valued are important factors in an individual's willingness to maintain their involvement. A number of strategies resulted from this consultation, these include: in-clinic data collection, co-ordinated clinical and research appointments, a SWIFFT website, and newsletter.

Conclusion: A participatory approach to trial retention might engage all relevant stakeholders in the delivery of a clinical trial, it might also support the generation of specific and contextually relevant solutions to the challenge of participant retention.

Keywords: clinical trial; data collection; methods; research design; study retention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Fractures, Bone / surgery
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Scaphoid Bone / injuries
  • Stakeholder Participation*