How to engage occupational physicians in recruitment of research participants: A mixed-methods study of challenges and opportunities

Iris Arends, Ute Bultmann, William S. Shaw, Willem van Rhenen, Corne Roelen, Karina Nielsen, Jac J. L. van der Klink

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Purpose To investigate barriers and facilitators for research participant recruitment by occupational physicians (OPs). Methods A mixed-methods approach was used. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with OPs to
explore perceived barriers and facilitators for recruitment. Based on data of a cluster-randomised controlled trial (cluster-RCT), univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to investigate associations between OPs’ personal and work characteristics and the number of recruited participants for the cluster-RCT per OP. Results Perceived barriers and facilitators for recruitment were categorised into: study characteristics (e.g. concise inclusion criteria); study population characteristics; OP’s attention; OP’s workload; context (e.g. working at different locations); and OP’s characteristics (e.g. motivated to help). Important facilitators were encouragement by colleagues and reminders by information technology tools. Multivariate analyses showed that the number of OPs within the clinical unit who recruited participants was positively associated with the number of recruited participants per OP [rate ratio of 1.43, 95 % confidence interval 1.24–1.64]. Conclusions When mobilising OPs for participant recruitment, researchers need to engage entire clinical units rather than approach OPs on an individual basis. OPs consider regular communication, especially face-to-face contact and information technology tools serving as reminders, as helpful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Early online date21 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Participant recruitment
  • RCT
  • Barriers and facilitators
  • Occupational health care
  • Mixed-methods

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