Primary Health Care Research and Development

Original Article

Recruiting opiate users to a randomized controlled trial in primary care: a descriptive study of GP attitudes

Laura Sheard a1c1, Charlotte NE Tompkins a1, Nat MJ Wright a2 and Clive E Adams a3
a1 Leeds North East Primary Care Trust, Leeds, UK
a2 Leeds Community Drug Treatment Services, Centre for Research in Primary Care, Leeds, UK
a3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Article author query
sheard l   [Google Scholar] 
tompkins cne   [Google Scholar] 
wright nmj   [Google Scholar] 
adams ce   [Google Scholar] 


Historically, few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been conducted in primary care and problems have been experienced applying this methodology in these settings. In 2001, The Leeds Evaluation of Efficacy of Detoxification Study (LEEDS) was developed. This RCT aimed to compare two detoxification drugs to inform best practice for the treatment of opiate users presenting to primary care requesting detoxification. This paper presents descriptive data from a postal survey of 12 general practitioners (GPs) from 10 primary care practices who were involved in the LEEDS trial. The questionnaire was sent out in November 2004, used open and closed questions and was self-administered. It uncovered factors that affected patient recruitment, GPs' views on the trial and their experience of randomizing opiate using patients. Flexible solutions to overcoming recruitment difficulties are presented alongside idealistic solutions to the problems experienced. The implications of our experiences of conducting this RCT in primary care practices are discussed in the light of conducting RCTs in primary care settings. This will benefit other research teams and clinicians who may be planning to use a similar research methodology.

(Published Online October 31 2006)
(Received April 2005)
(Accepted September 2005)

Key Words: general practitioners; opiate detoxification; primary care; randomized controlled trial.

c1 Address for correspondence: Laura Sheard, Centre for Research in Primary Care, 71–75 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9PL, UK. Email: