Patient-initiated recruitment for clinical research: Evaluation of an outpatient letter research statement

Matthias Wienroth, Louise Caffrey, Charles Wolfe, Christopher McKevitt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Background: UK Hospital Trusts are charged with increasing patients’ research awareness and willingness to take part in research. This includes implementing strategies to encourage patient-initiated enquiries about participation. Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a research statement inserted in outpatient letters in one clinical service, and to derive suggestions on potential steps towards increasing patient-initiated recruitment. Setting: A medical outpatient clinic of a research-active hospital trust, serving an inner-city multi-ethnic population across two boroughs. Methods: Pre-intervention and post-intervention questionnaires were administered face-to-face to new patients. Questionnaires included closed questions and one open comments section. Data were analysed for frequencies, with thematic coding of open-ended responses. Results: The response rates were 87% for the pre-intervention survey and 92% for the post-intervention survey. In the post-intervention survey, 85% of patients did not notice the research statement in the letter. More than half found the statement “a little unclear,” whilst one-third considered it “clear.” Three-quarters of respondents perceived the statement to be “a little helpful.” Only one person enquired about participating in clinical research having read the statement in the outpatient letter. Conclusion: The analysis suggests that simple, single-solution approaches such as including research statements in outpatient letters are unlikely to be sufficient to significantly facilitate patient-initiated recruitment. Recruitment efforts need to take into consideration the diversity of patient constituencies including the reasons they seek health care, and how patients can meaningfully access information (research literacy).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-500
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number2
Early online date22 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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