Objectives To explore trial site staff's perceptions regarding barriers and facilitators to local recruitment.

Design Qualitative semi-structured interviews with a range of trial site staff from four trial sites in the UK. Interviews were analysed thematically to identify common themes across sites, barriers that could be addressed and facilitators that could be shared with other sites.

Participants 11 members of staff from four trial sites: clinical grant Co-applicant (n=1); Principal Investigators (n=3); Consultant Urologist (n=1); Research Nurses (n=5); Research Assistant (n=1).

Setting Embedded within an ongoing randomised controlled trial (the TISU trial). TISU is a UK multicentre trial comparing therapeutic interventions for ureteric stones.

Results Our study draws attention to the initial and ongoing burden of trial work that is involved throughout the duration of a clinical trial. In terms of building and sustaining a research culture, trial staff described the ongoing work of engagement that was required to ensure that clinical staff were both educated and motivated to help with the process of identifying and screening potential participants. Having adequate and sufficient organisational and staffing resources was highlighted as being a necessary prerequisite to successful recruitment both in terms of accessing potentially eligible patients and being able to maximise recruitment after patient identification. The nature of the research study design can also potentially generate challenging communicative work for recruiting staff which can prove particularly problematic.

Conclusions Our paper adds to existing research highlighting the importance of the hidden and complex work that is involved in clinical trial recruitment. Those designing and supporting the operationalisation of clinical trials must recognise and support the mitigation of this ‘work’. While much of the work is likely to be contextually sensitive at the level of local sites and for individual trials, some aspects are ubiquitous issues for delivery of trials more generally.


Katie Gillies:

Zoë Skea:

Shaun Treweek:




Skea, ZC., Treweek, S. & Gillies, K. (2017). "It’s trying to manage the work”: A qualitative evaluation of recruitment processes within a UK multi-centre trial'. BMJ Open, vol 7, no. 8, pp. 1-8.