PhD Project

Randomised controlled trials are at the core of evidence-based healthcare; they guard against selection bias and therefore offer the fairest way of evaluating healthcare interventions. What is so surprising however, is the lack of evidence and high level of inefficiency that riddles the design and execution of trial processes.

This project will begin to tackle the problem of trial inefficiency by getting to grips with how participants are recruited into trials, ultimately aiming to improve recruitment methods in order to alleviate recruitment problems in trials on a global scale.

Study phases and objectives:

Phase 1: To consolidate existing information on participant recruitment into clinical trials.
This will involve completion of a systematic review of non-randomised evaluations of strategies to improve participant recruitment to RCTs, involvement in updating the existing Cochrane review on randomised evaluations of strategies to improve participant recruitment to RCTs, and involvement with a new Cochrane review led by NUI Galway which will look at the factors that impact participants’ decisions regarding trial participation using a qualitative evidence synthesis.

Phase 2: To investigate how best to present and distribute this information for the consumption of clinical trial teams.
This phase will comprise of a semi-structured interview study with trial ‘recruiters’ and ‘designers’, generation of multiple methods of presenting recruitment evidence, and user-testing of these methods.

Phase 3: To improve the current knowledge base through facilitation of work designed to fill gaps in evidence

Supervision: Professor Shaun Treweek and Dr Katie Gillies


Heidi Gardner;