MRC START is a project funded by the Medical Research Council Methodology Programme.

The aims of MRC START are to:

  • develop interventions to enhance recruitment into trials.
  • collaborate with ongoing trials to test these interventions in nested studies.
  • rapidly develop the evidence base for recruitment.
  • contribute to health and well being of patients and carers through better trials.
  • make research more accessible to the public.

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are critical to evidence-based practice, but recruitment is often problematic, with little rigorous evidence to assist research teams in recruitment and retention of participants. Without effective recruitment, the policy goal of improving health and wealth through research will be hard to realise.

A robust test of the effectiveness of a recruitment method is an RCT comparing one method with an alternative, nested in a host trial. Nested studies are rare, largely delivered in an ad hoc way, and always tested in the context of a single host trial, limiting their utility

Our vision is to develop a methodology to develop, deploy and test recruitment interventions nested within ongoing host RCTs, to rapidly and systematically improve the evidence base. To achieve this, our programme comprises of three interrelated work packages:

  1. Methodology – the development of methods for design and analysis of nested recruitment studies
  2. Interventions – development of recruitment interventions
  3. Implementation – the recruitment of a cohort of host RCTs and test recruitment interventions through nested studies across multiple trials

The MRC START study flyer is available here:

The full protocol is available here: