The PRIMROSE Study- A blooming success for Clinical Research Network Wessex!
Recruiting patients to primary care studies is often challenging and ensuring the right resource and support is often crucial to the success of the study. The PRIMROSE study was envisaged to be challenging due to the nature of the patient population, patients with Severe Mental Illness (SMI). It was thus important to adopt a rigorous recruitment strategy to ensure recruitment to time and target.
Clinical Research Network (CRN) Wessex recruited patients from sixteen, research experienced practices with large list sizes. It was important that practices had a potentially large population of patients with SMI to increase the uptake of eligible patients. A dedicated CRN research nurse lead on patient recruitment to the study; seeking expressions of interest from practices; liaising with the study team; and directly recruiting the patients. The research nurse had an established rapport with many practices, enabling recruitment to flourish as practices had a single point of contact and patients could be recruited as soon as they expressed an interest in the study.
Flexibility regarding appointment times was paramount as patients felt they were more likely to participate if appointments were at a time that suited them. It was important that patients were telephoned the day before the appointment as a reminder given that patients with SMI are known to miss appointments. The research nurse maintained excellent communication with the study team, based at University College London, to ensure that any problems were discussed and dealt with in a timely manner.
77 participants were recruited to the PRIMROSE study over an 18 month recruitment period in CRN Wessex. Of the 16 practices which recruited, the minimum target of 3 patients per practice was met for 15 of the practices. The 3 top recruiting practices were all highly research experienced with dedicated nurses or HCAs performing health checks and screening participants for eligibility before passing the details on to the research nurse. It was found that the top recruiting practice had the highest percentage of mental health patients on their list, in comparison to the other practices, supporting the view that targeting practices with a large cohort of mental health patients was a good strategy.
From experience, using the CRN nurse model has been shown to have a positive influence on recruitment rates. Contributory factors could be their wealth of research experience and dedicated time for patient recruitment.
The CRN nurse recruitment model has been shown to significantly boost the recruitment of this study to time and target, supporting the view that adopting the same model for future studies with challenging populations might improve overall recruitment.