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Interventions to improve retention in a surgical, clinical trial: a pragmatic, stakeholder driven approach

Leighton, Paul; Brealey, Stephen D.; Dias, Joseph J.

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Associate Professor of Applied Health Services Research

Stephen D. Brealey

Joseph J. Dias



To explore stakeholder perspectives upon participant retention in clinical trials, and to generate strategies to support retention in a surgical, clinical trial.

Study Design & Setting

The SWIFFT trial is a multi-centre study comparing treatments for the fracture of the waist of the scaphoid bone in adults. Here we report upon a multi-stage, iterative consultative process with SWIFFT stakeholders, these include workshops with members of the public, with nurses involved in data collection, and with consultant clinicians. Structured discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed, data were handled and analysed following a framework approach to qualitative data analysis.


Removing practical barriers were identified as important factors in supporting retention. Stakeholders also identified that i) how well a study is understood and ii) how much it is valued are important factors in an individual’s willingness to maintain their involvement. A number of strategies resulted from this consultation, these include: in-clinic data collection, co-ordinated clinical and research appointments, a SWIFFT website and newsletter.


A participatory approach to trial retention might engage all relevant stakeholders in the delivery of a clinical trial, it might also support the generation of specific and contextually relevant solutions to the challenge of participant retention.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 23, 2017
Online Publication Date Jan 22, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 23, 2019
Journal Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine
Print ISSN 1756-5383
Electronic ISSN 1756-5391
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Leighton PA, Brealey SD, Dias JJ. Interventions to improve retention in a surgical, clinical trial: A pragmatic, stakeholder driven approach. J Evid Based Med. 2018;00:1–8., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.