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Effective Recruitment and Retention in Dental Research

In the world of clinical research, participant recruitment and retention are two of the most critical aspects of study success. A recent article published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science provides valuable insights into these areas, focusing on five clinical studies conducted in the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network between 2012 and 2019.

Recruitment and Retention Strategies

The article presents a comprehensive retrospective assessment of the recruitment and retention strategies used in these studies. The authors detail the specific approaches used to attract and retain both practitioners and patients, providing a valuable resource for other researchers planning similar studies.

Specific Recruitment Strategies

Understanding the Patient Population: It’s important to understand who the patients are when planning a dental study. We need to consider their experiences to ensure the trial isn’t overly burdensome.
Informing Healthcare Providers: Keeping practitioners informed about a study is crucial. We can create materials that contain all the necessary details about the clinical trial, which they can then pass on to their patients.
Connecting with Nonprofit Partners and Patient Advocates: Building relationships with nonprofit organizations and patient advocates allows patients to receive information about the clinical trial from trusted sources.
Planning for Successful Trial Recruitment: Early and thoughtful planning for recruitment can help prevent future issues and enhance the efficiency of the trial.
High Retention Rates: The article highlights that many participants stayed in the studies, indicating the effectiveness of these strategies.

High Retention Rates

One of the key findings of the article is the high retention rates achieved in the studies. Patient follow-up rates for any assessment varied from 91% to 96.5%, and rates for participating in all assessments ranged from 68% to 87%. These impressive figures demonstrate the effectiveness of the strategies employed.

Factors Influencing Retention

The article also explores the characteristics of practitioners and patients that were associated with higher retention rates. For practitioners, practice type and patient enrollment were associated with greater clinic retention, while only race was associated with their patients completing post-visit online assessments. For patients, age was associated with clinic retention, while female gender, age, race, and education were all associated with greater completion of post-visit online assessments.


The findings of this article underscore the importance of effective recruitment and retention strategies in clinical research. By understanding the factors that contribute to successful participant engagement, researchers can design more effective studies and ultimately advance our understanding of dental health.

Read the full article:  

Mungia R, Funkhouser E, Cochran DL, et al. Recruitment strategies and retention rates for five National Dental PBRN studies. J Clin Transl Sci. 2024;8(1):e56. Published 2024 Mar 22. doi:10.1017/cts.2024.499 

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