Recruitment and retention of physicians for primary care research


The primary objective of this report is to examine factors associated with recruitment of physicians in community-based primary care research. Reported results are based on an observational study of physician recruitment efforts undertaken in a randomized controlled trial designed to improve primary care physicians' cancer screening and counseling activities. The Partners for Prevention project was a statewide randomized controlled trial of primary care physicians selected from the state of Colorado. Two-hundred and ten eligible internal medicine and family medicine practices in both rural and urban community settings of the state of Colorado were selected into this study and a sentinel physician was chosen to represent each practice. Only 6% (13/210) of recruited practices initially declined to participate in the study, but the total refusal rate had reached 30% (59/210) by the time the intervention was implemented five months later. Study participants (n = 136) were younger (mean age 45.7 vs. 50.0, p = 0.008) and more often located in a rural area (46% vs. 31%, p = 0.04) than decliners (n = 59), but there was no association with gender of the physician (87% for females vs. 95% for males, p = 0.13). Participants were more often family practice physicians by training rather than internists (75% vs. 56%, p = 0.008), whereas there was no difference in participation rates by practice type (solo versus group, 60% vs. 64%, p = 0.52). Differences in demographic, geographic, and training characteristics between trial participants and decliners suggest the potential for better targeting of recruitment efforts. Viable strategies for recruiting community-based primary care practices to research studies are proposed.



Document Type





Physician recruitment, Physician retention, Primary care research, Study participation commitment

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Community Health