Identifying trial recruitment uncertainties using a James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership - The PRioRiTy (Prioritising Recruitment in Randomised Trials) Study

Patricia Healy, Sandra Galvin, Paula R. Williamson, Shaun Treweek, Caroline Whiting, Beccy Maeso, Christopher Bray, Peter Brocklehurst, Mary Clarke Moloney, Abdel Douiri, Carrol Gamble, Heidi Rebecca Gardner, Derick Mitchell, Derek Stewart, Joan Jordan, Martin O'Donnell, Mike Clarke, Sue H. Pavitt, Eleanor Woodford Guegan, Amanda Blatch-JonesValerie Smith, Hannah Reay, Declan Devane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the problem of inadequate recruitment to randomised trials, there is little evidence to guide researchers on decisions about how people are effectively recruited to take part in trials. The PRioRiTy study aimed to identify and prioritise important unanswered trial recruitment questions for research. The PRioRiTy study - Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) included members of the public approached to take part in a randomised trial or who have represented participants on randomised trial steering committees, health professionals and research staff with experience of recruiting to randomised trials, people who have designed, conducted, analysed or reported on randomised trials and people with experience of randomised trials methodology.

This partnership was aided by the James Lind Alliance and involved eight stages: (i) identifying a unique, relevant prioritisation area within trial methodology; (ii) establishing a steering group (iii) identifying and engaging with partners and stakeholders; (iv) formulating an initial list of uncertainties; (v) collating the uncertainties into research questions; (vi) confirming that the questions for research are a current recruitment challenge; (vii) shortlisting questions and (viii) final prioritisation through a face-to-face workshop.

A total of 790 survey respondents yielded 1693 open-text answers to 6 questions, from which 1880 potential questions for research were identified. After merging duplicates, the number of questions was reduced to 496. Questions were combined further, and those that were submitted by fewer than 15 people and/or fewer than 6 of the 7 stakeholder groups were excluded from the next round of prioritisation resulting in 31 unique questions for research. All 31 questions were confirmed as being unanswered after checking relevant, up-to-date research evidence. The 10 highest priority questions were ranked at a face-to-face workshop. The number 1 ranked question was “How can randomised trials become part of routine care and best utilise current clinical care pathways?” The top 10 research questions can be viewed at

The prioritised questions call for a collective focus on normalising trials as part of clinical care, enhancing communication, addressing barriers, enablers and motivators around participation and exploring greater public involvement in the research process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number147
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank all contributing individuals who completed the surveys and the people that participated in the final prioritisation workshop in Birmingham.

This research was funded under the Health Research Board Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme Awards 2015, through the Health Research Board -Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) and with the support of the James Lind Alliance throughout this PSP. The Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, receives core funding from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates.


  • Recruitment challenges
  • Participation in randomised trials
  • Survey
  • Priority setting partnership
  • James Lind Alliance
  • Trial methodology


Dive into the research topics of 'Identifying trial recruitment uncertainties using a James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership - The PRioRiTy (Prioritising Recruitment in Randomised Trials) Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this