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Table 2 FIRST enrolment and follow-up enhancement strategies

From: A multi-centre randomized controlled trial comparing arthroscopic osteochondroplasty and lavage with arthroscopic lavage alone on patient important outcomes and quality of life in the treatment of young adult (18–50) Femoroacetabular impingement

Before the study begins At screening At baseline During the study For participants who are difficult to contact
• Formally train clinical research coordinators on how to reduce loss to follow-up • Let participants know what information will be collected and how their information will be used • Obtain several personal contacts on a locator form, including friend or family and employment contacts to assist in locating participants later • Provide participant with a choice of email, phone, and/or clinic visits for convenience • Repeatedly search for updated information or try previously disconnected phone numbers
• Ensure the survey area is private and comfortable • Let participants know that the study might help other patients in similar situations to enhance their motivation to participate • Ensure each locator form is signed by the participant to ensure a thorough understanding and to give written consent to contact listed individuals • Be flexible on scheduling in-clinic visits to allow for scheduling issues to be resolved • Search local phone directories, contact alternate contacts, try to contact patients from a different phone number or at a different time of day
• Develop a locator protocol to guide efforts to locate patients for follow-up visits • Be explicit with the participant about the follow-up procedures including providing specific information to the participant about when to expect contact from the study staff, how often, and what type of contact (email, in-person, telephone, etc.) • Ensure informed consent is conducted in an appropriate manner, including using examples and explanations that are accessible to a lay audience • Ensure participants can easily contact the study staff by providing them with materials on which the study toll-free number was printed, such as business cards, appointments cards, brochures, or study promotional materials • Hold regular staff meetings to brainstorm ideas about how to find some of the participants who are the most difficult. This will also increase staff motivation for locating hard-to-find participants
• Routinely verify contact information
• Study personnel will log all attempts to contact each participant and the outcome of each attempt
• The methods centre will conduct random site audits to verify that all precautions are being taken to secure data
• The methods centre will conduct extensive data entry audits and verifications, weekly data reports, recruitment reports, and contact tracking reports