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Why is it so difficult to get GPs to take part in research?

After spending the past month attempting to recruit GPs to take part in an interview study, I’m kind of running out patience. Of course, I am not the first person banging my head, the lowest response rate I’ve seen in a published study is 7% (in Curnock, Bowie, Pope, & McKay, 2012) and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones below that level were just flatly refused for publication.

The GPs were promised payment of £80 an hour. I also sent them letters with silky university letterheads, hand signatures, hand written envelopes, and stamped return addresses. I then rang them up – and even then only one acceptance and little enthusiasm from others.

How do I get them to participate?

What are the secrets behind recruiting GPs to take part in interviews/focus groups?

Reference: Curnock, E., Bowie, P., Pope, L., & McKay, J. (2012). Barriers and attitudes influencing non-engagement in a peer feedback model to inform evidence for GP appraisal. BMC medical education, 12(1), 15. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-15

NB: Many people responded to this plea for help on Twitter, and their responses have been gathered together in this post: 10 ways to increase GP participation in researchhttp://salmapatel.co.uk/healthcare/10-ways-increase-gp-participation-research