Community volunteers as recruitment staff in a clinical trial: the systolic hypertension in the elderly program (SHEP) experience

Control Clin Trials. 1996 Feb;17(1):23-32. doi: 10.1016/0197-2456(95)00074-7.


During the recruitment phase of a trial it is often found that recruitment is not proceeding as quickly as projected. Budget limitations require innovative methods, such as use of volunteers, to increase recruitment yields without increasing cost. In the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP), volunteer staff at 12 of the 16 clinical centers (CCs) performed a range of tasks such as mailings, telephoning, and clerical work. SHEP volunteers donated almost 40,000 hours, at an estimated cost savings to the program of more than $368,000. Staff volunteers appear to require more training and supervision than regular staff and may require flexible work schedules. These limitations can be obviated by careful planning. This paper describes the SHEP experience with staff volunteers and provides suggestions for their use in other trials.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel Selection
  • Pilot Projects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / economics
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volunteers*


  • Antihypertensive Agents