Views of healthcare professionals on recruiting to a psychosocial randomised controlled trial: A qualitative study

Trefor Aspden, Megan Armstrong, Marc Serfaty*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)
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Background: Randomised controlled trials, and in particular those of psychosocial interventions, often fail to recruit to target, resulting in underpowered trials with poor generalisability of findings. The objectives of this study were to explore the views of healthcare professionals on recruiting to psychosocial research studies, and to explore their views on factors that may hinder or facilitate recruitment. Methods: We conducted 14 semi-structured interviews, with healthcare professionals who had been involved in recruitment into a randomised controlled trial of a talking therapy for depression in patients with advanced cancer. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Five primary themes were identified, comprised of 11 subthemes. Attitudes towards research were largely positive. Health care professionals identified lack of time and narrow screening criteria as barriers to recruitment, and also noted the tendency to withhold participants from research for reasons other than eligibility (e.g., gatekeeping). The engagement of the study team with the clinical recruitment site, and the frequent presence of a researcher in clinics, were noted as facilitating recruitment. Conclusions: Healthcare professionals involved in recruiting to trials of psychosocial interventions hold generally positive views of psychosocial research. However, they report that constraints including space and time limit their ability to recruit, and express anxieties about approaching patients for trial recruitment in the palliative phase of their illness. The findings from this study can inform how best to design trials, and in particular trials of psychosocial interventions, and train health care professionals for the study, to maximise recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number837
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Psychooncology
  • Psychosocial
  • Qualitative
  • Randomised Controlled Trial
  • RCT
  • Recruitment


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