A systematic review of training programmes for recruiters to randomised controlled trials

Daisy Townsend, Nicola Mills, Jelena Savović, Jenny L Donovan
Trials 2015 September 28, 16: 432

BACKGROUND: Recruitment to randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is often difficult. Clinician related factors have been implicated as important reasons for low rates of recruitment. Clinicians (doctors and other health professionals) can experience discomfort with some underlying principles of RCTs and experience difficulties in conveying them positively to potential trial participants. Recruiter training has been suggested to address identified problems but a synthesis of this research is lacking. The aim of our study was to systematically review the available evidence on training interventions for recruiters to randomised trials.

METHODS: Studies that evaluated training programmes for trial recruiters were included. Those that provided only general communication training not linked to RCT recruitment were excluded. Data extraction and quality assessment were completed by two reviewers independently, with a third author where necessary.

RESULTS: Seventeen studies of 9615 potentially eligible titles and abstracts were included in the review: three randomised controlled studies, two non-randomised controlled studies, nine uncontrolled pre-test/post-test studies, two qualitative studies, and a post-training questionnaire survey. Most studies were of moderate or weak quality. Training programmes were mostly set within cancer trials, and usually consisted of workshops with a mix of health professionals over one or two consecutive days covering generic and trial specific issues. Recruiter training programmes were well received and some increased recruiters' self-confidence in communicating key RCT concepts to patients. There was, however, little evidence that this training increased actual recruitment rates or patient understanding, satisfaction, or levels of informed consent.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to develop recruiter training programmes that can lead to improved recruitment and informed consent in randomised trials.

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