Recruitment and retention of physicians for primary care research

Brent J. Shelton, James L. Wofford, Carol A. Gosselink, Maureen W. McClatchey, Karen Brekke, Colleen Conry, Pamela Wolfe, Stuart J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The primary objective of this report is to examine factors associated with recruitment of physicians in community-based primary care research. Reported results are based on an observational study of physician recruitment efforts undertaken in a randomized controlled trial designed to improve primary care physicians' cancer screening and counseling activities. The Partners for Prevention project was a statewide randomized controlled trial of primary care physicians selected from the state of Colorado. Two-hundred and ten eligible internal medicine and family medicine practices in both rural and urban community settings of the state of Colorado were selected into this study and a sentinel physician was chosen to represent each practice. Only 6% (13/210) of recruited practices initially declined to participate in the study, but the total refusal rate had reached 30% (59/210) by the time the intervention was implemented five months later. Study participants (n = 136) were younger (mean age 45.7 vs. 50.0, p = 0.008) and more often located in a rural area (46% vs. 31%, p = 0.04) than decliners (n = 59), but there was no association with gender of the physician (87% for females vs. 95% for males, p = 0.13). Participants were more often family practice physicians by training rather than internists (75% vs. 56%, p = 0.008), whereas there was no difference in participation rates by practice type (solo versus group, 60% vs. 64%, p = 0.52). Differences in demographic, geographic, and training characteristics between trial participants and decliners suggest the potential for better targeting of recruitment efforts. Viable strategies for recruiting community-based primary care practices to research studies are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by grant # HS06992 from the Agency for Health Care Research in Quality (formerly known as Agency for Health Care Policy and Research). We wish to acknowledge Dr. George Thomasson, study recruiter and Vice President of Risk Management at Copic Insurance Company, and Dr. Phil Archer, a biostatistician involved in the earlier stages of the study, for their ongoing support and work on the project; Wendy Dortch and Sue Stantejsky, for their tireless efforts in database management; John Torrance for aid in setting up the initial recruitment database; and Dr. Jane Steiner, who assisted in physician recruitment.


  • Physician recruitment
  • Physician retention
  • Primary care research
  • Study participation commitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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