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Table 2 Measuring the impact of patient and public involvement on recruitment to research

From: ‘Is it worth doing?’ Measuring the impact of patient and public involvement in research

Example 1: Johns et al. [17] used data from the CRN’s Closed Study Evaluation Survey, which asks CRN researchers about involvement at different stages of their research projects and the perceived impact of the involvement from the researchers’ perspective. They also accessed CRN data relating to recruitment to time and target. Out of the 281 studies that responded to the survey, 193 had involvement of some kind, while 88 had no involvement. Two hundred and seventy-seven of the 281 studies had records about whether they had recruited to time and target. These data were analysed to explore whether involvement or other study factors (study design, trial randomisation, geographic scope, planned sample size or planned trial duration) had a significant relationship with recruitment. Involvement was the only factor that was shown to have a significant impact on the odds of achieving recruitment to time and target, although the effect was small.  
In the Evaluation Survey, one of the questions asks CRN researchers to indicate whether involvement improved the design/development of their study by selecting from a list of possible impacts. These include factors that have the potential to influence recruitment, such as improving engagement of seldom-heard groups and the quality of information provided to potential participants. Researchers can tick more than one option, and it is not clear where there is overlap. In 43 % of the studies in the sample (n = 83), researchers’ reported a specific change to recruitment procedures to make them more sensitive to participants’ needs.  
Example 2: Ennis and Wykes [16] analysed data from 374 studies registered on the Mental Health Research Network’s portfolio database. These data included information about researchers’ plans for involvement which are required as part of the application to join the portfolio. On the application form, MHRN researchers categorise the level of involvement in their project as being either consultation; researcher-initiated, jointly-initiated or patient-initiated collaboration; or patient-controlled research. The database also includes information about recruitment. Ennis and Wykes chose to define successful recruitment as reaching >90 % of the proposed recruitment target. A statistical analysis of these data showed an association between the description of involvement at the start of the study and successful recruitment, even after other factors such as study design, study complexity and clinical group under investigation had been taken into account. This effect was larger in studies with greater levels of involvement.