March 28, 2024, by mszteh

Boosting study recruitment by engaging with Be Part of Research

We were all so excited when the Eczema Bathing Study opened to recruitment on 29 January. It’s the first study to come out of the Rapid Eczema Trials research programme and is trying to find out whether it’s better to have a shower (or bath) daily or just once or twice a week when you have eczema. Like all studies we’re doing through Rapid Eczema Trials, it’s being done online with no clinic visits or doctors’ appointments and so no geographical boundaries to taking part.

One disadvantage of this for us as researchers, is that no appointments mean there are no healthcare professionals to introduce the study and talk to people about getting involved. This is one of the main ways that individuals usually find out about and take part in clinical research, so we’ve needed to think about different ways to contact and get people affected by eczema interested in joining the study. Initial activities included promoting to our Rapid Eczema Trials citizen science community and via social media and within a couple of weeks 43 people had been recruited (with a total of 390 needed). This is pretty good, as it can take much longer to recruit a similar number of patients in studies recruiting from healthcare settings, but we still had other options to explore, including ‘Be Part of Research’.

NIHR Be Part of Research logo

Be Part of Research is an online service operated by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) that aims to make it easier for people to find and take part in health and care research. In addition to a website where you can search for studies to take part, there is also the option to sign up to be contacted about studies in conditions you’re affected by. We got in touch with the Be Part of Research team and were really pleased to find out that they have almost 1,800 people with eczema signed up and were happy to circulate details of the Eczema Bathing Study to them. We had to get ethical approval for the invitation email, which was straightforward as this included information about the study that had already been approved by the Ethics Committee.

Cartoon rubber duck wearing a Rapid Eczema Trials jacket

We didn’t have to wait long to see an effect. Within 30 minutes of the invitation mail going out to the Be Part of Research eczema contact list, 17 people had joined the study and within 24 hours we’d recruited a total of 60 people using this route. This has made a real difference and we’ve now recruited over 200 people within two months of the Eczema Bathing Study opening. Although the numbers coming into this study through Be Part Of Research have now ‘calmed down’, we’re so pleased with the results we saw from involving them and will certainly be engaging with Be Part of Research for all our other Rapid Eczema Trials too.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about Rapid Eczema Trials, please visit our website or email us at

The Rapid Eczema Trials project involves researchers, healthcare professionals and citizen scientists (people with eczema and parents of children with eczema) working together to answer important questions about eczema by designing and running clinical trials together.

The Rapid Eczema Trials programme is sponsored by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research programme (PGfAR NIHR203279). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Written by Carron Layfield, Ellie Harrison and Leila Thuma, members of the Rapid Eczema Trials research team.

Posted in Medicine