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01.12.2013 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2013 Open Access

BMC Medical Research Methodology 1/2013

Lessons learnt recruiting to a multi-site UK cohort study to explore recovery of health and well-being after colorectal cancer (CREW study)

BMC Medical Research Methodology > Ausgabe 1/2013
Deborah Fenlon, Kim Chivers Seymour, Ikumi Okamoto, Jane Winter, Alison Richardson, Julia Addington-Hall, Jessica L Corner, Peter W Smith, Christine M May, Matthew Breckons, Claire Foster
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1471-2288-13-153) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

CF and JC conceptualised the project, and obtained study funding; CF is the Chief Investigator, and DF, AR, JAH, PS, JC, JW are co-investigators. DF developed the study protocol. DF and KCS prepared the manuscript. DF oversaw the day-to-day running of the study during the recruitment phase working with IO, KCS, CM and MB. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



The UK leads the world in recruitment of patients to cancer clinical trials, with a six-fold increase in recruitment during 2001–2010. However, there are large variations across cancer centres. This paper details recruitment to a large multi-centre prospective cohort study and discusses lessons learnt to enhance recruitment.


During CREW (ColoREctal Wellbeing) cohort study set up and recruitment, data were systematically collected on all centres that applied to participate, time from study approval to first participant recruited and the percentage of eligible patients recruited into the study.


30 participating NHS cancer centres were selected through an open competition via the cancer networks. Time from study approval to first participant recruited took a median 124 days (min 53, max 290). Of 1350 eligible people in the study time frame, 78% (n = 1056) were recruited into the study, varying from 30-100% eligible across centres. Recruitment of 1056 participants took 17 months.


In partnership with the National Cancer Research Network, this successful study prioritised relationship building and education. Key points for effective recruitment: pre-screening and selection of centres; nurses as PIs; attendance at study days; frequent communication and a reduced level of consent to enhance uptake amongst underrepresented groups.
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