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Why do patients take part in research? An overview of systematic reviews of psychosocial barriers and facilitators

Published: 12 March 2020
 in Trials
Trials , Volume 21, pp 1-18; doi:10.1186/s13063-020-4197-3

Abstract: Background Understanding why people take part in health research is critical to improve research efficiency and generalisability. The aim of this overview of systematic reviews was to identify psychosocial determinants of research participation and map them to psychological theory and empirical recruitment research, to identify effective strategies to increase research participation. Methods Qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews were systematically identified. No date or language limits were applied. Two reviewers independently selected reviews. Methodological quality was rated using AMSTAR, and poor-quality reviews (scoring 0–3) were excluded. Barriers and facilitators were coded to psychological theory (Theoretical Domains Framework) and empirical recruitment research (recruitment interventions that had been subjected to randomised controlled trial evaluation). Results We included 26 systematic reviews (429 unique primary studies), covering a wide range of patient populations and health settings. We identified five groups of facilitators, of which three were dominant (potential for personal benefit, altruism, trust) and appear to be relevant across research setting and design. We identified nine groups of barriers, which were more dependent on the particular study (context, population, design). Two determinants (participant information, social influences) were found to be both barriers and facilitators. Barriers and facilitators could be coded to the Motivation and Opportunity components of the Theoretical Domains Framework; only one was coded to a Capability component. There was some overlap between psychosocial determinants and empirical recruitment research, but some barriers and facilitators had not been tested at all. Conclusions Identifying effective recruitment strategies could increase the efficiency and generalisability of primary research. We identified a number of barriers and facilitators that could be addressed by researchers. There is a need for more research to identify effective recruitment strategies that draw on the psychosocial facilitators and barriers identified in this overview.
Keywords: Overview / Systematic review / Recruitment / Psychosocial / Consent / Research participation

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