Educational impact and recommendations from implementation of student-led clinical trial recruitment: a mixed-methods study

Aya M Riad, William A Cambridge, David Henshall, Heather McAdam, Thomas M Drake, Cameron J Fairfield, Stephen R Knight, Alessandro Sgrò, Catherine Shaw, James C Glasbey, Mark A Potter, Ewen M Harrison, Kenneth A McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical students have an essential role in medical research, yet often lack opportunities for involvement within randomised trials. This study aimed to understand the educational impact of clinical trial recruitment for medical students. Tracking wound infection with smartphone technology (TWIST) was a randomised controlled trial that included adult patients undergoing emergency abdominal surgery across two university teaching hospitals. All recruiters underwent prerecruitment training based on 'Generating Student Recruiters for Randomised Trials' principles, and completed prerecruitment and postrecruitment surveys. Respondent agreement with statements were assessed using 5-point Likert scales (from 1 ('strongly disagree') to 5 ('strongly agree')). Quantitative data were analysed using paired t-tests to compare differences pre-involvement and post-involvement. Thematic content analysis was performed on free-text data to generate recommendations for future student research involvement. Of 492 patients recruited to TWIST between 26 July 2016 and 4 March 2020, 86.0% (n=423) were recruited by medical students. Following introduction of student co-investigators (n=31), the overall monthly recruitment rate tripled (4.8-15.7 patients). 96.8% of recruiters (n=30/31) completed both surveys, and all respondents reported significant improvement in clinical and academic competencies. Three higher-level thematic domains emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) engagement, (2) preparation and (3) ongoing support. Student recruitment in clinical trials is feasible and accelerates recruitment to clinical trials. Students demonstrated novel clinical research competencies and increased their likelihood of future involvement. Adequate training, support and selection of suitable trials are essential for future student involvement in randomised trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Early online date6 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2022


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