Recruitment of Patients With Cancer for a Clinical Trial Evaluating a Web-Based Psycho-Oncological Intervention: Secondary Analysis of a Diversified Recruitment Strategy in a Randomized Controlled Trial.

Publication date: Nov 27, 2023

Participant recruitment poses challenges in psycho-oncological intervention research, such as psycho-oncological web-based intervention studies. Strict consecutive recruitment in clinical settings provides important methodological benefits but is often associated with low response rates and reduced practicability and ecological validity. In addition to preexisting recruitment barriers, the protective measures owing to the COVID-19 pandemic restricted recruitment activities in the clinical setting since March 2020. This study aims to outline the recruitment strategy for a randomized controlled trial evaluating the unguided emotion-based psycho-oncological online self-help (epos), which combined traditional and web-based recruitment. We developed a combined recruitment strategy including traditional (eg, recruitment in clinics, medical practices, cancer counseling centers, and newspapers) and web-based recruitment (Instagram, Facebook, and web pages). Recruitment was conducted between May 2020 and September 2021. Eligible participants for this study were adult patients with any type of cancer who were currently receiving treatment or in posttreatment care. They were also required to have a good command of the German language and access to a device suitable for web-based interventions, such as a laptop or computer. We analyzed data from 304 participants who were enrolled in a 17-month recruitment period using various recruitment strategies. Web-based and traditional recruitment strategies led to comparable numbers of participants (151/304, 49. 7% vs 153/304, 50. 3%). However, web-based recruitment required much less effort. Regardless of the recruitment strategy, the total sample did not accurately represent patients with cancer currently undergoing treatment for major types of cancer in terms of various sociodemographic characteristics, including but not limited to sex and age. However, among the web-recruited study participants, the proportion of female participants was even higher (P

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Concepts Keywords
Clinics cancer
German psycho-oncology
Instagram recruitment
Randomized social media
web-based interventions
web-based recruitment


Type Source Name
disease MESH Cancer
disease IDO intervention
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO device

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