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Central Recruitment capitalizes on COVID downtime to launch new patients for future studies

During the suspension of non-essential research in March, the team developed a new system designed to connect research participants to appropriate studies

TORONTO, ON – February 25, 2021 - When the first wave of COVID-19 hit the province, non-essential research was suspended, and the central recruitment (CR) team - the body responsible for recruiting inpatients for research studies - had two options. 

Option one: wait for normal research operations to resume and do what’s necessary for the short-term success of the team. 

Option two: turn the setback into an opportunity and invest time and energy into strategic planning, setting up a work-from-home model and launch a new and innovative way for researchers to recruit participants for future studies.

Proceeding with the second option, the team put together the Research Volunteer Pool (RVP), a membership database to which former Toronto Rehab patients are added and later recruited for studies. 

The RVP launched in June, 2020 allowing scientists at The KITE Research Institute to begin recruiting patients for studies via Patient Research Liaisons (PRLs), a group who has played an instrumental role in the resumption of research activity.  

The PRL role was designed to be streamlined and efficient, which worked well during the pandemic, where on-site capacity was limited. With this design, only one person is needed per unit to recruit for all studies and particular patient populations, reducing the need for staff members to come on site. 

“Keep the lines of communication open, focus your energy on a common goal and stay positive.” That’s the advice that CR team lead Dr. Cathy Craven is offering to other groups at KITE who have been impacted by the pandemic.

Despite the redeployment of two of its members, the CR team not only launched the Research Volunteer Pool, it was also able to complete a new manuscript, which has since been submitted in the journal of Disability & Rehabilitation. 

Since its launch in June, the RVP is already having a big impact. So far, the team has added 185 people to the database, all of whom have consented to participate in our studies. 

The next phase of the project is providing access to the RVP to KITE researchers as a service to assist  with recruitment. Scientists will be able to apply through CAPCR to access the list of members and find those who best meet the criteria for their studies.

Not only is the work of the CR team helping researchers overcome the challenges of patient recruitment, especially during the pandemic, it also helps advance the field of rehab science, by connecting some of the most suitable patients to research studies designed to accompany them in their journey to recovery.