Increasing access to clinical research using an innovative mobile recruitment approach: The (MoRe) concept

the VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Access to healthcare delivery programs and systems is a primary correlate to the overall health and well-being of Veterans and the general population. Participation in clinical research is a gateway to novel therapies that are intended to address current global health issues. Meeting or exceeding recruitment goals in clinical research is one of the key determinants of the timely and successful completion of a study. The travel and time burdens experienced by study participants are often considered barriers to their enrollment into clinical research. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) established a consortium of nine VA medical centers (VAMCs) called the Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES). The NODES program provides study site-level expertise and innovative approaches that address challenges to clinical research execution. In alignment with our mission, our program developed an approach to increase study participant access to clinical research through implementing “Mobile Recruitment (MoRe)” units. This manuscript describes the utility and challenges associated with employing this strategy to address three common barriers to clinical research participation: 1) research participant travel burden, 2) participant access to study opportunities, and 3) low participant enrollment. Methods: A plan to introduce the Mobile Recruitment (MoRe) unit as a recruitment strategy was piloted for a high-volume, observational cohort study and mega biobank in the VA health care system, the “Million Veteran Program (MVP)”. MoRe is a recruitment strategy for CSP research integrating mobile technology and atypical research recruitment locations. Recruitment locations include primary or main VA hospitals and their assigned VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). Each Node site (n = 9) received components of the MoRe unit including a laptop, printer, portable cart with storage space, cooler/ice packs for specimen storage and transport. Each site's usage of these components varied based on its respective needs. Activities focused on both VA main facilities and CBOC facilities for recruitment. Results: Seven of the nine Node sites compared the effectiveness of the MoRe unit on MVP study enrollment outcomes over three-time points: pre-intervention period, intervention period, and post-intervention period. The utilization of MoRe in the intervention period demonstrated a 36.9% increase in enrollment compared to the previous six months (pre-intervention period). There was a 2% enrollment increase at the six-month post-intervention period as compared to the intervention period. When comparing the pre-intervention period to the post-intervention period (duration of eighteen months), enrollment increased by 38.9%. Conclusion: Five of the seven sites experienced an increase in enrollment during the intervention and post-intervention periods. The two sites without an increase in enrollment experienced various extenuating factors. Characteristics of sites using MoRe included the ability to utilize a smaller, unconventional space, i.e. not a traditional clinical research exam space for recruitment. MoRe was utilized in hospital laboratory space, CBOCs, primary care clinics, and other subspecialty clinics that allowed recruitment activities but did not have dedicated space to offer the research teams for that purpose. This initiative successfully demonstrated the benefit of deploying the unit, proving its utility in cases in where there was a lack of space or alternative workstations for research activities. The implementation of MoRe by NODES as a recruitment strategy for MVP may be transferable to other VA clinical research studies, as well as to other healthcare settings executing similar clinical research activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100623
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials Communications
Volume19
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Access to research
  • Innovative enrollment strategies
  • Mobile recruitment
  • Recruitment barriers
  • Veteran research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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