Researchers target clinical trial recruitment challenges with online database

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers target clinical trial recruitment challenges with online database

Related tags: Patient recruitment

The online resource organizes and maps myriad sources of research on clinical trial recruitment to help users identify promising interventions, say report authors.

Researchers recently published​ a report in the journal Clinical Trials discussing the Recruitment Research in Clinical triAls (ORRCA) project, which provides a searchable, online database of research relevant to clinical trial recruitment.

“Whilst there is a wealth of published literature addressing recruitment challenges, the mapping exercise shows only a small proportion report nested randomized control trials of recruitment interventions,”​ said corresponding author Anna Kearney. “Consequently, there is little evidence for effective practices.”

Kearney told us the ORRCA project was established in response to the well-documented challenge of recruiting patients to clinical trials.

“Over the last two decades published literature addressing recruitment problems has significantly increased,”​ she explained. “However, navigating this literature is time and consuming and difficult, especially for those looking to identify solutions for a particular trials design or context.”

ORRCA aimed to create a free, online, searchable database for publicly funded and commercial trials to access relevant recruitment research.

“In particular, we wanted to help users identify promising interventions and inform the matching or tailoring of these interventions to specific recruitment challenges faced by different types of trial,” ​Kearney said.

“Mapping the literature also provided opportunities to identify gaps in the evidence base and areas of uncertainty, encouraging collaboration and preventing unnecessary duplication of methodology research,”​ she added.

With volunteer reviewer support from the UK, Ireland, and Australia, the large-scale literature review began in January 2015.

The reviewers searched major databases for articles evaluating the effectiveness of recruitment interventions, reporting the use of recruitment strategies, and exploring factors that affect recruitment.

The free, online, searchable database​ was launched in August 2016 and currently contains more than 3,500 articles covering recruitment.

Kearney explained that users can identify relevant articles via free text searches of titles and abstracts or through using the database filters. The filters include recruitment theme, health area, gender, age, location, or research methods.

According to the Kearney, studies reporting nested randomized controlled trials (RCT) of recruitment interventions have focused on refining the consent process and optimizing patient information.

Areas yet to be explored include “the impact and choice of trial sites, the influence of outcome choice, and the impact of recruiter equipoise.”

However, following on its success, ORRCA will soon be extended to include retention research, Kearney explained. “Whilst it is essential trials recruit sufficient numbers of participants it is equally important that these participants are retained and contribute outcomes,” ​she said.

ORRCA is being accessed internationally, Kearney said, and has been used to support the update of several systematic reviews.

“We are incredibly grateful to the team of researchers who have inputted into ORRCA, helping us demonstrate that large scale, collaborative, methodological research projects are possible,​” added Kearney, who noted that the scale of the project was challenging.

ORRCA receives funding from Medical Research Council’s Hub for Trials Methodology Research​ (MRC HTMR) and the Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network​ (HRB TMRN).

Source: Clinical Trials
DOI: 10.1177/1740774518796156
Development of an online resource for recruitment research in clinical trials to organise and map current literature
Authors: Kearney, A., Harman, N. L., Rosala- Hallas, A., Beecher, C., Blazeby, J. M., Bower, P., ... Gamble, C.

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