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Recruitment barriers in surgical education research
  1. Camila Vega Vega1,2,
  2. Hannah Gostlow1,2,
  3. Nicholas Marlow2,
  4. Wendy Babidge1,2,
  5. Guy Maddern1,2
  1. 1Division of Surgery, University of Adelaide, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2Australian Safety and Efficacy Register of New Interventional Procedures—Surgical (ASERNIP-S), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Guy Maddern, University of Adelaide, Division of Surgery, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 28 Woodville road, Woodville, SA 5011, Australia. guy.maddern{at}

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In surgical education research, enrolment of a sufficient number of surgeons is vital for the successful implementation of projects. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is conducting a multicentre project investigating the efficacy and feasibility of a simulated laparoscopic skills course—titled the Laparoscopic Simulation Skills Program (LSSP). The primary target population for recruitment to the LSSP are surgical trainees and junior doctors, yet their enrolment and participation has been low compared to other eligible groups.

It has been reported that motivators for doctors’ participation in clinical research correlates to their desire to update their own knowledge and the possibility of helping patients.1 Our project has focused on the first of these motivators and we have continuously refined communication processes to better engage, enrol and retain our target population. We describe the benefits and pitfalls of the engagement methods used by the LSSP to provide prospective researchers with strategies to improve enrolment of doctors in future research.

Strategies and implications

Official contact

Initial contact has been made via Officers in Medical and Surgical Administration and Medical Education. Officers are asked to distribute (via email) recruitment information using group distribution lists.


Mass email targets large populations quickly and easily. Moreover, using formal channels can add credibility to the project.2 This method maintains the confidentiality …

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  • Contributors CVV and HG are responsible for conception of the work, acquisition and interpretation of data, drafting and critically revising, final approval and accountable for work. NM is responsible for conception of the work, interpretation of data, critically revising, final approval and accountable for work. WB and GM are responsible for conception of the work, critically revising, final approval and accountable for work.

  • Funding The LSSP was supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation ‘James Ramsay Project Grant’.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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