Participant Retention Planning

At the time of obtaining informed consent, it is important to ensure that the potential participant understands what level of commitment is necessary to be involved in the research study in addition to the key elements of informed consent.

The expectations of the number of visits, length of visits, tasks involved at each visit, duration of the overall study and potential costs should be clearly discussed with the potential participant prior to enrollment. If the trial is a randomized placebo or comparative controlled study design, then extra attention should be given to this discussion. All of these aspects of participating in a research study can dramatically impact the participant’s willingness or ability to commit to the full length of the study.

Study participation is completely voluntary and participants can withdraw from the study at any time. Providing consistent and informative visit reminders in the form of a letter and phone call can be helpful to participants and may positively contribute to participant retention. Also, writing protocols that allow flexibility in study visits to accommodate the busy schedules of participants may also yield a higher retention rate.