Barriers and Strategies in Recruitment for Bariatric Surgery Research

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Bariatric surgery patients present unique challenges for research recruitment. These include the stigma of obesity, sensitive psychosocial issues that may accompany obesity, and the many requirements of insurers before surgery is approved. Yet, little guidance is found in the literature on ways to improve recruitment success for bariatric surgery patients specifically. The purpose of this article is to describe the strategies we developed to overcome anticipated and unanticipated barriers to recruiting bariatric surgery patients for a prospective pilot study. First, we review the literature on barriers to recruitment and strategies to improve recruitment for clinical research projects in general. Pertinent barriers include fear of emotional distress, practical and logistical concerns for data collection, issues related to research regulations, and clinician attitudes regarding the study. Second, we demonstrate the ways in which successful strategies from the literature were incorporated into our recruitment plan. To help devise the recruitment plan, we categorized successful strategies into six recruitment steps that comprised the recruitment process for our pilot study. Third, we describe the ways in which our recruitment plan evolved to address unexpected challenges that emerged despite our systematic approach. We were able to complete the pilot study and maintain its integrity, but our initial goal of completing the study within a year was compromised. The information from this experience will help fill a gap in the literature, and can be used to improve the recruitment efficiency of bariatric surgery nurses and researchers who are involved in clinical research with bariatric surgery patients.

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Bariatric Nursing and Surgical Care