Optimising retention success: a research team’s experience of following-up participants recruited to a pilot trial through community pharmacies in England

Michelle Watson*, Anne van Dongen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The CHAMP-1 ( Community pharmacy: Highlighting Alcohol use in Medication a Ppointments) pilot trial aimed to explore an intervention discussing alcohol during medication consultations with community pharmacists. It presented various challenges regarding patient retention, as participants were recruited by their pharmacist and followed-up remotely by a trained researcher, who they had not met, two months later. We discuss our actions and experiences of completing follow-up activities. Methods: Community pharmacists recruited patients aged 18 and over, attending a Medicine Use Review (MUR) or New Medicine Service (NMS) consultation, and drinking alcohol at least twice per week. Pharmacies were randomised to conduct their consultations as usual (control), or to incorporate the Medicines and Alcohol Consultation (MAC) intervention. All participants were followed-up by a researcher after two months to complete data collection via telephone or post. We employed standard follow-up strategies, including a plan to text participants with a reminder in advance of their follow-up. Results: Forty-seven of 51 participants (92%) completed the two month follow-up. Thirty-eight (81%) responses were provided by telephone and nine (19%) by post. Of the 38 follow-up calls completed by telephone, 17 (45%) participants were reached at first attempt; 16 (42%) at second attempt; and five (13%) at the third attempt. We observed a high percentage of data completion across telephone and postal collection methods. Participants were willing to discuss potentially sensitive issues, such as alcohol consumption, anxiety, and depression, with a researcher who was external to the pharmacy team. Conclusions: The results suggest that patients recruited to a trial by community pharmacists are willing to take part in data collection activities, and remote follow-up can be successfully conducted by researchers. The techniques employed to encourage high levels of retention should be investigated further in a larger study, alongside consideration of optimal strategies to collect data within community pharmacies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1042
Early online date25 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


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