Establishing the ACORN National Practitioner Database: Strategies to Recruit Practitioners to a National Practice-Based Research Network

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Abstract

Objectives:

The purpose of this paper is to report on the recruitment and promotion strategies employed by the Australian Chiropractic Research Network (ACORN) project aimed at helping recruit a substantial national sample of participants and to describe the features of our practice-based research network (PBRN) design that may provide key insights to others looking to establish a similar network or draw on the ACORN project to conduct sub-studies.

Methods:

The ACORN project followed a multifaceted recruitment and promotion strategy drawing on distinct branding, a practitioner-focused promotion campaign, and a strategically designed questionnaire and distribution/recruitment approach to attract sufficient participation from the ranks of registered chiropractors across Australia.

Results:

From the 4684 chiropractors registered at the time of recruitment, the project achieved a database response rate of 36% (n = 1680), resulting in a large, nationally representative sample across age, gender, and location. This sample constitutes the largest proportional coverage of participants from any voluntary national PBRN across any single health care profession.

Conclusions:

It does appear that a number of key promotional and recruitment features of the ACORN project may have helped establish the high response rate for the PBRN, which constitutes an important sustainable resource for future national and international efforts to grow the chiropractic evidence base and research capacity. Further rigorous enquiry is needed to help evaluate the direct contribution of specific promotional and recruitment strategies in attaining high response rates from practitioner populations who may be invited to participate in future PBRNs.

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