Recruitment in Surgical Trials

Workshop on Randomised Surgical Trials: Methods to Improve Recruitment and Study Design

  • Date: September 1, 2011
  • Venue: Royal College of Surgeons, London


One of the main barriers to conducting surgical trials is ineffective recruitment. Slow recruitment delays trial progress, is expensive (requiring extensions) or it may lead to early stopping of a trial without the sample size target being achieved. There are also many examples of surgical trials thought to be too difficult to undertake because surgeons consider that recruitment is impossible.

This workshop was organised by the ConDuCT Hub, in collaboration with the Cambridge Biostatistics Hub, the NIHR National Working Party on Improving Recruitment to Interventional Trials and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. The event was chaired by Professor Jane Blazeby and Professor Dion Morton.


  • To provide an educational workshop focusing on methodological issues around recruitment into surgical trials and related issues in design.
  • To learn about the successes and failures of some existing RCTs in surgery and discuss common issues.
  • To raise the profile of randomised controlled trials within the surgical research community and provide the opportunity for networking between surgeons and methodologists.

Click here to view the programme.


The workshop was attended by 170+ surgeons, methodologists, trialists, research nurses and patient representatives. Speakers shared their experiences, successes and obstacles to highlight the key issues around running surgical RCTs. Questions and comments from the audience led to discussion about how we can aim to improve this difficult and complex area of research.


  • Presentations raised awareness of trainee-led surgical research collaboratives and the benefit for including qualitative methods in the design and conduct of surgical trials.
  • Current on-going trials were promoted with the potential to increase recruitment.
  • An overview of the event will appear in a Virtual Edition of
  • Feedback supports plans for a second event focused on surgical RCTs.


Slides / audio files of the presentations are available below.

Session 1

Session 2