Recruiting and retaining participants in e-Delphi surveys for core outcome set development: Evaluating the COMiT’ID study

Deborah Ann Hall*, Harriet Smith, Eithne Heffernan, Kathryn Fackrell, Core Outcome Measures in Tinnitus International Delphi (COMiT’ID) Research Steering Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background
A Core Outcome Set (COS) is an agreed list of outcomes that are measured and reported in all clinical trials for a particular health condition. An ‘e-Delphi’ is an increasingly popular method for developing a COS whereby stakeholders are consulted via a multi-round online survey to reach agreement regarding the most important outcomes. Many COS studies seek diverse, international input that includes professionals and healthcare users. However, the recruitment and retention of participants can be deterred by various factors (e.g. language barriers and iterative, time-consuming rounds). This report evaluates the effectiveness of recruitment and retention methods used in the Core Outcome Measures in Tinnitus International Delphi (COMiT’ID) study using participant feedback from healthcare users, healthcare practitioners, researchers, commercial representatives and funders.

Methods
A range of methods were applied to recruit participants to the study and maintain engagement over the three rounds. Feedback on recruitment and retention methods was collected using a twenty-item online questionnaire, with free text comments.

Results
A personalised email invitation was the most frequent recruitment route, and 719 professionals and healthcare users consented to take part. Retention of each stakeholder group ranged from 76 to 91% completing all three e-Delphi rounds. Feedback was given by 379 respondents. A majority of respondents were satisfied with the study methods that were implemented to promote retention. Over 55% indicated that their overall experience closely matched their expectations at the start of the study, and over 90% felt that their contribution was appreciated.

Conclusions
This report highlights study methods that worked well with respect to recruitment and retention, and those that did not. Findings provide a unique contribution to the growing evidence base of good practice in COS development by demonstrating the relative effectiveness of recruitment and retention methods for an e-Delphi survey.

Trial registration
This project was registered (November 2014) in the database of the Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) initiative. The protocol is published in Trials (doi:10.1186/s13063-017-2123-0).
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0201378
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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