Pivoting during a pandemic: developing a new recruitment model for a randomised controlled trial in response to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 80% of non-COVID-19 trials were interrupted for several reasons and either struggled to recruit participants or stopped recruiting altogether. This commentary paper from PC4 ECRN member Shakira Milton discusses recruiting patients from general practice clinics during the pandemic for the Should I Take Aspirin? (SITA) trial, a randomised controlled trial of a decision aid to support informed choices about taking aspirin to reduce risk of bowel cancer and other chronic conditions. The article discusses the development of a novel teletrial model for recruitment and delivery of the interventions. The model allowed for recruitment to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided more flexible participation options for participants. Over a 6-month period, the team successfully reached their full sample size of 264, with a recruitment rate of 87% of eligible participants. The teletrial model is now being used in other primary care trials as we continue to face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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