Payment to healthcare professionals for patient recruitment to trials: a systematic review.

Posted: Jun 20, 2012
BMJ. 331. 7529. 1377-8.
KEYWORDS: Knowledge/Attitudes/Beliefs, Incentives, Consent, Financial Incentives, Provider Influence, Conflict of Interest


Payments to providers for trial recruitment may not be worth the investment.

Why this item may be useful

A systematic literature review did not find evidence that paying healthcare professionals for recruiting patients into randomized clinical trials, either through financial incentives or cost reimbursement, is associated with recruitment rates. Some researchers who do provide incentives act on assumptions that payment is effective due to its proven effectiveness in other settings. Due to ethical considerations related to potential conflict of interest, informed consent issues, and impact on the doctor-patient relationship, incentives for providers should not be used in publicly funded RCTs unless further research discovers evidence that this strategy is effective in improving recruitment success.


  • No studies using control groups or studies designed to test hypotheses were identified; all studies found during the review focused on associations of provider characteristics with recruitment.
  • Three cross-sectional surveys, two focusing on primary care and one on hospital settings, were analyzed.