Implementing Substance Abuse Group Therapy Clinical Trials in Real-World Settings: Challenges and Strategies for Participant Recruitment and Therapist Training in the Women's Recovery Group Study

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Background and Objectives:

Open-enrollment group therapy research is challenged by the participant recruitment necessary to ensure continuous group enrollment. We present successful strategies to overcome the following barriers during the Women's Recovery Group (WRG) two-site clinical trial (N = 158): maintenance of sample size and balanced gender randomization during continuous enrollment, maintenance of group attendance, and training and retention of therapists over the 24-month continuous group enrollment.


To increase recruitment, we targeted referral sources yielding the highest enrollment conversion at each site. Group sessions were consistently held regardless of group size. Therapists were trained in two teams allowing for coverage and uninterrupted treatment over 24 months.


At both sites recruitment and enrollment increased with each successive quarter. Sample size and end date targets were met without disruptions in treatment. Group therapists reported high satisfaction with their training and treatment experiences.

Discussion and Conclusions:

These strategies supported targeted enrollment and study duration, stability of open-enrollment group therapy frame, and therapist retention and satisfaction.

Scientific Significance:

Applying these strategies can aid in providing evidence-based group therapy in both clinical and research settings. (Am J Addict 2014;23:197–204)

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