Barriers to Research Recruitment of Women Experiencing a Pregnancy Loss in the Emergency Department

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Women often come to the emergency department (ED) with signs and symptoms suggesting an early pregnancy loss; yet, little is known about their experience and how it relates to future outcomes. To improve patient outcomes and experiences of women seeking care for a pregnancy loss, research is required. However, recruitment of participants experiencing an event such as a pregnancy loss is challenging. The purpose of this article is to discuss the application of an electronic medical record (EMR)-based participant screening tool recruiting women seeking care for a pregnancy loss in the ED. This study implemented an EMR-based prompt to assist participant screening completed by ED nurses: (a) The prompts were based on criteria built into triggers that activated a recruitment screening form to print upon discharge; (b) nurses completed the form with patients, asking for willingness to be contacted at home; and (c) participants were subsequently contacted and enrolled in the study. Our research screening program was implemented continuously in 2 EDs: a large, urban, academic medical center and a community academic hospital. Data were analyzed through descriptive statistics of reports built within the EMR. These reports signaled when the screening tool flagged participants and subsequently tied the corresponding information to the completed forms. The recruitment tool fired 1,169 times, with 61% (n = 714) screened. Fifty percent (n = 37) of women experiencing an early pregnancy loss were willing to be contacted at home for research recruitment. Of those approached after discharge (n = 24), 33% (n = 8) enrolled in the study. Of note, at one site, 14% (81/577) of potential participants with early pregnancy loss symptoms left before seeing a provider, with 26% (150/577) of these encounters were repeat visits. Staff education, nurse reluctance to approach potential participants, and patients who left without being seen led to barriers in participant screening.

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