Can we achieve better trial recruitment by presenting patient information through multimedia? Meta-analysis of ‘studies within a trial’ (SWATs)

Vichithranie W Madurasinghe, Peter Knapp, Sandra Eldridge, David Collier, Shaun Treweek, Jo Rick, Jonathan Graffy, Adwoa Parker, Chris Salisbury, David John Torgerson, Kate Jolly, Manbinder S Sidhu, Christopher Fife-Schaw, Mark A Hull, Kirsty Sprange, Elizabeth Brettell, Sunil Bhandari, Alan Montgomery, Peter Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People need high-quality information to make decisions about research participation. Providing information in written format alone is conventional but may not be the most effective and acceptable approach. We developed a structure for the presentation of information using multimedia which included generic and trial-specific content. Our aim was to embed ‘Studies Within A Trial’ (SWATs) across multiple ongoing trials to test whether multimedia presentation of patient information led to better rates of recruitment.

Five trials included a SWAT and randomised their participants to receive a multimedia presentation alongside standard information, or standard written information alone. We collected data on trial recruitment, acceptance and retention and analysed the pooled results using random effects meta-analysis, with the primary outcome defined as the proportion of participants randomised following an invitation to take part.

Five SWATs provided data on the primary outcome of proportion of participants randomised. Multimedia alongside written information results in little or no difference in recruitment rates (pooled odds ratio = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.79 to 1.17, p-value = 0.671, I2 = 0%). There was no effect on any other outcomes.

Multimedia alongside written information did not improve trial recruitment rates.

Trial registration
ISRCTN71952900, ISRCTN 06710391, ISRCTN 17160087, ISRCTN05926847, ISRCTN62869767.
Original languageEnglish
Article number425
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023.

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