Recruitment issues in healthcare research: the situation in home care


Karen-Lee Miller Home and Community Care Evaluation and Research Centre University of Toronto 50 St George Street Toronto Ontario Canada M5S 3H4 E-mail:


A global shift in the setting of healthcare from hospitals and long-term care institutions to homes and communities has been accompanied by the growth of interest in the home as a site of healthcare research. Home care researchers have identified the recruitment of research subjects as a significant concern. The present descriptive, exploratory study used qualitative, semi-structured interviews with home care researchers (n = 9) to illuminate the challenges related to recruitment. The results suggest that while home care research shares recruitment issues common to other forms of health research, it has unique concerns. Factors affecting recruitment in home care studies include non-dedicated recruiters, the current context of healthcare restructuring, and gatekeeper and participant feelings about the home as a setting for care and research. Reasons for refusal to participate may be more complex in home care research given the meanings care recipients attribute to their ‘homes’. Home care researchers may also face unique ethical and/or moral dilemmas. This paper recommends the routine reporting of recruitment problems, increased inclusion of minority subjects to ensure sample representativeness and further studies of the subjective meanings of ‘home’ as it is associated with healthcare treatment.