Supporting recruitment into adult social care studies

Supporting recruitment into adult social care studies

Greater investment in research capacity-building, provision of research support costs, improving recruitment and participation methods, and increasing public engagement and awareness are among the recommendations to support recruitment into adult social care studies from NIHR SSCR’s latest Methods Review.

The Review explored challenges in recruiting organisations and individuals for adult social care research and identified possible strategies to address them from the perspective of social care researchers. It was carried out by Eva Cyhlarova, Michael Clark and Martin Knapp within the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre at the LSE.

Key barriers identified highlighted the variation and changing nature of the social care sector in England, with many providers lacking capacity for research participation. Some of the recommendations set out by the Review – such as investment in research capacity-building and providing research support costs to organisations – may help.

Challenges for researchers included the need to adjust recruitment strategies because of the variation among provider organisations and as a result of the rapidly changing nature of care delivery in England. Interviewees also identified a lack of understanding of research benefit and organisations’ gatekeeping arrangements as common difficulties.

The seventeen senior social care researchers interviewed about their experiences also recommended: ensuring effective involvement throughout studies; building partnerships with individuals, groups and organisations; and offering financial and other incentives to organisations for their participation. Using a variety of recruitment strategies and offering a range of participation routes were also suggested.

The Review recognised the growing investment in recent years in developing capacity in adult social care research and highlighted the need for further investment if the sector is to respond to the rising need for robust research evidence to help improve policy, practice and outcomes.

Professor Martin Knapp, Director of NIHR SSCR, said:

Recruitment into research studies can be very difficult, and social care researchers have often struggled. In this Review we have tried to identify the main challenges, and what solutions other researchers have suggested. It is now important for research funders and researchers to explore these recommendations to support adult social care research. It would be great to hear from organisations and individuals on their experiences of recruitment (or not) into studies.

Full review

Cyhlarova E, Clark M, Knapp M (2020) Recruiting Participants for Adult Social Care Studies: Challenges and Mitigating Strategies, NIHR SSCR Methods Review 25, NIHR School for Social Care Research, London.

Further information

This review was funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research and led by the authors at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Feedback on the Review

The School welcomes feedback from researchers on the challenges and recommendations highlighted in this review, and from organisations and individuals on their experiences. Comments can be submitted to the School using our feedback form.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Other news


4 August 2020

Call for Research Proposals

NIHR SSCR invites full proposals for research projects to address priorities for improving the evidence base for adult social care...


30 July 2020

Career development awards call

NIHR SSCR invites applications to support individuals to develop their careers in adult social care research by 18 January 2021.


15 April 2020

Seven doctoral studentships from October 2020

Seven full-time PhD studentships to start in October 2020 are available through NIHR SSCR for research relevant to adult social...


7 July 2020

Impact of austerity

Research finds that over 40% of people with learning disabilities interviewed lost care and support as a result of cuts...