Background Published studies of patients with heart failure may not include details about the challenges in the recruitment process.

Objectives To describe the recruitment process during the first 18 months of a study being conducted to evaluate cognitive deficits in patients with chronic heart failure.

Methods Details of the recruitment process are described for 2 clinic sites.

Results A total of 4027 echocardiograms were screened at site 1 to evaluate eligibility. Of the 161 patients eligible, 61 (38%) were invited to participate, and 29 of the 61 (48%) completed the study. At site 2, four hundred thirty-seven medical records of patients were screened, resulting in 163 eligible patients (37%). The staff invited 70 of the 163 patients (43%) to participate, and 52 of the 70 (74%) completed the study. The refusal rate was 23% at site 1 and 21% at site 2.

Conclusions Successful recruitment in studies involving patients with heart failure often requires screening of a large group of patients.

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