Physicians respond differently when recruited for public health and bioterrorism surveillance projects
Sudden outbreaks of infection and bioterrorism require the speedy response of clinicians to report clinical events to a central agency (sentinel surveillance). But what types of physicians are most likely to respond efficiently when time is of the essence? A new study finds that recruiting clinicians from established physician networks offers the best opportunity to get sentinel surveillance up and running when a sudden outbreak occurs. Researchers recruited physicians for future surveillance activities from three types of provider groups in Wisconsin. The first group consisted of family physicians who belonged to a long-standing practice-based research network that conducted clinical research. A second group was composed of clinicians who regularly reported flu-like illness prevalence. Finally, a control group consisted of physicians who were general members of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians. Various recruitment efforts were used, including telephone calls, e-mails, faxes, incentive payments, and promotion by leaders of each group. Recruitment goals were achieved most efficiently for clinicians from the research network.
Their members were recruited within 5 weeks. Clinicians from the other two groups required an additional 4 weeks to meet recruiting goals. Three hours of staff time were required, on average, to recruit one clinician, resulting in 360 hours to reach recruitment goals. Clinicians in the influenza group returned consent forms faster than the other two groups. They also required the fewest reminders. Research network physicians responded the quickest to calls for participation and were more likely to respond positively to the request. Recruitment efforts worked best when phone, fax, and e-mail were used in combination with frequent, weekly contact. The most effective recruitment tool was buy-in and participation by the leaders of each clinician group. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS14417). See “Recruiting primary care clinicians for public health and bioterrorism surveillance,” by Jonathan L. Temte, M.D., Ph.D. and Michael E. Grasnick, Ph.D., in the 2009 Wisconsin Medical Journal 108(2), pp. 104-108.
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