Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 March 2007
Background: Research in general practice is expanding rapidly but studies are frequently challenged with recruitment difficulties resulting in inadequate sample size, recruitment bias, delayed completion and additional costs. Aim: This study was designed to explore how practice teams make decisions to participate in research, to identify the key influences on the decision making process and to generate for researchers some ways of enhancing recruitment. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a representative from each of the 11 participating general practices. A thematic analysis of the verbatim transcripts was conducted using the method described by Burnard. Findings: Whilst not having a formal process for considering research requests the criteria used in discussion appeared to be very similar between practices and included the clinical relevance of the research question, clarity of practice responsibilities, realistic expectations and support available. Attention to presentation (style, length, clarity) is also important for engaging attention. Some of the measures to improve recruitment appear to be common sense but the experiences of practices suggested that such measures are not being incorporated routinely by researchers. The need for good project management and cognisance of marketing strategies is also highlighted.