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Southampton Health Technology Assessments CentreNews

SHTAC is presenting at the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) International conference, Cologne, 18th June 2019

Published: 18 June 2019
Digital tools are used in patient recruitment and retention to clinical trials

The oral presentation, given by Dr Jonathan Shepherd, will describe the scope, methods and findings of a recently completed systematic map conducted by researchers at SHTAC.

The aim of the map was to identify and describe the research studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of digital tools for improving the recruitment and/or retention of patients in clinical and health research trials, and to describe the characteristics of those digital tools that have been evaluated.

From a total of 9159 references identified by a comprehensive literature search, a total of 101 studies met the inclusion criteria for the map. The results of the map showed that there is a predominance of research into patient recruitment, but far less on patient retention. The most common digital approach for recruitment is to publicise trials to potential participants, via digital tools such as websites, email, social media, tv and radio. Common tools for retention included email and text messages. The study concluded that is a need for rigorous research on the efficiency of the digital tools and their impact on randomised controlled trial participants and investigators. Particular focus is needed on digital tools for retaining patients in trials.

The map was one of three components of a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded project entitled ‘User-focused research to identify the benefits of innovative digital recruitment and retention tools for more efficient conduct of randomised trials’. The project was a collaboration between SHTAC, Southampton and Bristol Clinical Trials Units, Wessex Institute and NETSCC Research on Research team. This presentation complements two other presentations at the HTAi international conference, drawn from the same project: Digital Tools For More Efficient Conduct Of RCTs: Trials Unit Survey and Trial Recruitment & Retention Using Digital Tools: A Qualitative Study.

The full results of the systematic map have been written up as a manuscript and submitted to a peer reviewed journal, for intended publication later in 2019.


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