Recruitment challenges for a prospective telehealth cohort study

Kellie Pertl, Ritwika Petluri, Katharina Wiest, Kim Hoffman, Dennis McCarty, Ximena A. Levander, Brian Chan, Stephen A. Martin, P. Todd Korthuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges in participant recruitment strategies for clinical research involving people with opioid use disorders recently engaged in treatment. We describe challenges to participant recruitment in a trial comparing virtual buprenorphine treatment platform to office-based buprenorphine treatment. Methods: The parent study was a cohort trial of telehealth delivered buprenorphine treatment compared to office-based buprenorphine treatment, however, due to the pandemic potential participant recruitment for both arms became virtual. Between 9/27/2021 and 7/11/2022, telephone, email, flyers, and word-of-mouth were used to recruit study participants from each treatment setting. Recruitment tracking documents recorded the primary outcomes: number of outreach attempts and most effective contact methods. Results: Treatment settings provided contact information for 1485 potential study participants. Information was incorrect or disconnected for 282 (19%) individuals, 695 (47%) did not respond to outreach, and 508 (34%) responded to outreach. Of these responders, 369 were interested in study participation, 259 completed the online informed consent and screening assessment, and 148 met eligibility criteria and enrolled in the study. A total of 3804 virtual outreach attempts across 1485 potential participants were made, resulting in an average of 2.7 attempts per contact and a mean of 25.7 attempts per enrolled participant (n = 148). Conclusion: Conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic required shifting from in-person to virtual recruitment strategies to contact and engage potential study participants. Virtual recruitment for this population during a pandemic appears to be less efficient and hindered efforts to meet recruitment goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101043
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials Communications
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Buprenorphine
  • COVID-19
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Recruitment challenges
  • Telemedicine
  • Virtual recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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