The Tribulations of Trials: Lessons Learnt Recruiting 777 Older Adults Into REtirement in ACTion (REACT), a Trial of a Community, Group-Based Active Aging Intervention Targeting Mobility Disability


Challenges of recruitment to randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and successful strategies to overcome them should be clearly reported to improve recruitment into future trials. REtirement in ACTion (REACT) is a United Kingdom-based multicenter RCT recruiting older adults at high risk of mobility disability to a 12-month group-based exercise and behavior maintenance program or to a minimal Healthy Aging control intervention.The recruitment target was 768 adults, aged 65 years and older scoring 4–9 on the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Recruitment methods include the following: (a) invitations mailed by general practitioners (GPs); (b) invitations distributed via third-sector organizations; and (c) public relations (PR) campaign. Yields, efficiency, and costs were calculated.The study recruited 777 (33.9% men) community-dwelling, older adults (mean age 77.55 years (SD 6.79), mean SPPB score 7.37 (SD 1.56)), 95.11% white (n = 739) and broadly representative of UK quintiles of deprivation. Over a 20-month recruitment period, 25,559 invitations were issued. Eighty-eight percent of the participants were recruited via GP invitations, 5.4% via the PR campaign, 3% via word-of-mouth, and 2.5% via third-sector organizations. Mean recruitment cost per participant was £78.47, with an extra £26.54 per recruit paid to GPs to cover research costs.REACT successfully recruited to target. Response rates were lower than initially predicted and recruitment timescales required adjustment. Written invitations from GPs were the most efficient method for recruiting older adults at risk of mobility disability. Targeted efforts could achieve more ethnically diverse cohorts. All trials should be required to provide recruitment data to enable evidence-based planning of future trials.

The Journals of Gerontology: Series A