Use of electronic recruitment methods in a clinical trial of adults with gout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background/aims: Electronic-based recruitment methods are increasingly utilized in clinical trials to recruit and enroll research participants. The cost-effectiveness of electronic-based methods and impact on sample generalizability is unknown. We compared recruitment yields, cost-effectiveness, and demographic characteristics across several electronic and traditional recruitment methods. Methods: We analyzed data from the diet gout trial recruitment campaign. The diet gout trial was a randomized, controlled, cross-over trial that examined the effects of a dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH)–like diet on uric acid levels in adults with gout. We used four electronic medical record and four non-electronic medical record–based recruitment methods to identify and recruit potentially eligible participants. We calculated the response rate, screening visit completion rate, and randomization rate for each method. We also determined cost per response, the screening, and randomization for each method. Finally, we compared the demographic characteristics among individuals who completed the screening visit by recruitment method. Results: Of the 294 adults who responded to the recruitment campaign, 51% were identified from electronic medical record–based methods. Patient portal messaging, an electronic medical record–based method, resulted in the highest response rate (4%), screening visit completion rate (37%), and randomization rate (21%) among these eight methods. Electronic medical record–based methods ($60) were more cost-effective per response than non-electronic medical record–based methods ($107). Electronic-based methods, including patient portal messaging and Facebook, had the highest proportion of White individuals screened (52% and 60%). Direct mail to non-active patient portal increased enrollment of traditionally under-represented groups, including both women and African Americans. Conclusion: An electronic medical record–based recruitment strategy that utilized the electronic medical record for participant identification and postal mailing for participant outreach was cost-effective and increased participation of under-represented groups. This hybrid strategy represents a promising approach to improve the timely execution and broad generalizability of future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-103
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Trials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Recruitment methods
  • clinical trials
  • disparities
  • electronic medical records
  • randomized control trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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