This Methods Review aimed to describe the challenges in recruiting organisations and individuals for adult social care research and identify possible strategies to address them.
One of the main barriers to recruitment was variation among provider organisations, so recruitment strategies needed to be adjusted for different organisations, many of which lacked capacity for research participation. The rapidly changing nature of adult social care organisation and delivery in England also means that recruitment strategies often need to be adapted while research is in progress. Building partnerships between researchers and providers and offering financial and other incentives were suggested as mitigating strategies. In recruiting individuals, a lack of understanding of research benefit and organisations’ gatekeeping arrangements were common difficulties. Interviewees suggested: raising public awareness of adult social care research; building relationships with user/carer groups; using a variety of recruitment strategies and offering a range of participation routes. Researchers and funding bodies should allow sufficient time and resources to recruit representative samples. Researchers should share recruitment knowledge.