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Recruitment Techniques for Alcohol Pharmacotherapy Clinical Trials: A Cost-benefit Analysis

Tompkins, D. Andrew MD*; Sides, Jessica A. BA; Harrison, Joseph A. MS*; Strain, Eric C. MD*

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: December 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 4 - p 211–219
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000047
Original Articles

Objectives: Alcohol-use disorders (AUDs) represent a large public health burden with relatively few efficacious pharmacotherapies. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for new AUD therapies can be hampered by ineffective recruitment, leading to increased trial costs. The current analyses examined the effectiveness of recruitment efforts during 2 consecutive outpatient RCTs of novel AUD pharmacotherapies conducted between 2009 and 2012.

Methods: During an initial phone screen, participants identified an ad source for learning about the study. Qualified persons were then scheduled for in-person screens (IPSs). The present analyses examined demographic differences among the 8 ad sources utilized. Recruitment effectiveness was determined by dividing the number of persons meeting criteria for an IPS by the total number of callers from each ad source. Cost-effectiveness was determined by dividing total ad source cost by number of screens, participants randomized, and completers.

Results: A total of 1813 calls resulted in 1005 completed phone screens. The most common ad source was television (34%), followed by print (29%), word-of-mouth (11%), flyer (8%), internet (5%), radio (5%), bus ad (2%), and billboard (1%). Participants reporting bus ads (46%), billboard (44%), or print ads (34%) were significantly more likely than the other sources to meet criteria to be scheduled for IPSs. The most cost-effective ad source was print ($2506 per completer), whereas bus ad was the least cost-effective ($13,376 per completer).

Conclusions: Recruitment in AUD RCTs can be successful using diverse advertising methods. The present analyses favored use of print ads as most cost-effective.

*Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Baltimore, MD

Department of Oncology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 5T32 DA07209, K24 DA023186, and K23 DA029609, as well as 2 subcontracts from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) administered by Fast-Track Drugs and Biologics, LLC.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: D. Andrew Tompkins, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, 5510 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224 (e-mail: dtompki1@jhmi.edu).

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