Your study will not be able to take place without participants so there are a number of considerations to be taken into account when developing your study, such as how many participants you need to take part in your study, and how many you can feasibly recruit.
A statistician may be able to advise you on how many participants you will need to take part in your study to obtain a meaningful result.
You also need to consider what may make participants (either staff, patients or the general public) want to take part in your study. You must offer potential participants a free choice and must not coerce them into participating, but consider:
How you will get their attention?
How can you reach them? Where can you reach them?
How should you communicate with them and make the study understandable to them? Are there any specific considerations e.g. language, easy read information, child participants?
Should you reward them or reimburse their travel costs?
If your study asks participants to do something difficult or unpleasant, you may find it difficult to recruit as many as you would like. After all, your participants give up their time and more to participate in your study. If this is not pleasant, or is risky, or takes up a lot of time, participants may be more likely to decline to take part, or withdraw during the study. This is another very good reason for involving patients and the general public as early as possible, to identify what parts of the study may be off-putting and how best to communicate about the study with your participants.
In these instances, or if you are approaching a group which may be difficult to reach, for example GP practice staff who may struggle to find the time to participate in your study, or patients who may be difficult to find or approach, this doesn’t mean you should be put off from your study aim. You may, however, need to approach more people, allow more time, or cast the net more widely in more areas in order to reach your recruitment target.
Some research areas may have a database of people interested in participating in certain types of research. One good example of this is Join Dementia Research.
Please see 'How we can help' for practical ways in which we can help you access GP practices in an attempt to increase study recruitment
For further advice on recruiting patients to portfolio studies you can contact your local Agile Research Team or speak with a member of our team. For advice about non-portfolio studies please contact us.