Can a ‘consent to contact’ community help research teams overcome barriers to recruitment? The development and impact of the ‘Research for the Future’ community

Can a ‘consent to contact’ community help research teams overcome barriers to recruitment? The development and impact of the ‘Research for the Future’ community
Debate
Katherine Grady, Martin Gibson, Peter Bower
BMC Medical Research Methodology, 22 October 2019; 19(195)
Open Access
Abstract
Background
Recruitment to health research remains a major challenge. Innovation is required to meet policy commitments to help patients take part in health research. One innovation that may help meet those policy goals is the development of ‘consent to contact’ systems, where people give generic consent to be contacted about research opportunities. Despite their potential, there are few empirical assessments of different ways of recruiting patients to such communities, or of the value of such communities to local research teams.
Main text
We describe the development of the ‘Research for the Future‘consent to contact community, outline the recruitment of patients to the community, and present data on their participation in research.
Discussion
Over 5000 people have been registered across 3 clinical areas. A range of recruitment strategies have been used, including direct recruitment by clinicians, postal invitations from primary care, and social media. In a 1 year period (2016–2017), the community provided over 1500 participants for a variety of research projects. Feedback from research teams has generally been positive.
Summary
The ‘Research for the Future‘consent to contact community has proven feasible and useful for local research teams. Further evaluation is needed to assess the cost-effectiveness of different recruitment strategies, explore patient and researcher experience of its advantages and disadvantages, and explore how the community can be more reflective of the wider population.

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