A case-control study of serious crashes in an extensive rural area of North Queensland, Australia, is currently underway. Planning for the study took several years to bring to completion. Its original design involved interviews with persons admitted to major hospitals in the region as a consequence of a traffic crash and with drivers recruited at the roadside optimally at or near the same site one week later. To date this is the plan that has been followed, although problems with roadside recruitment have been encountered.
We propose to examine several issues which arose, and continue to arise, in the process of designing, piloting and execution of the study. Operational definitions of concepts such as "rural", "remote" and "serious", and unanticipated methodological and practical challenges involved in recruiting a comparison series will be explored. We will also present some of the many ethical, legal, organisational and logistic complications which we faced and still face in mounting such a study and the solutions proposed and subsequently employed to overcome them.