Enrollment and Retention of Men and Women in Health Services Research and Development Trials

Karen M. Goldstein, Wei Duan-Porter, Aviel Alkon, Maren K. Olsen, Corrine I. Voils, Susan N. Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sex- and gender-specific science is essential to inform patient-centered, evidence-based care. Developing such evidence requires adequate inclusion of both women and men in trials. We sought to describe study participation of women and men in Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development trials. Methods: We identified recent health services research trials from one Health Services Research and Development Center of Innovation and compared the participation of women and men from trial recruitment to study completion. We also calculated the participation to prevalence ratio (PPR) by sex for each trial. Results: We included eight trials that started recruitment between 2011 and 2014. Only one study purposefully attempted to boost the recruitment of women. Overall, the PPR for women ranged from 0.2 to 4.5, with seven studies having a PPR of greater than 1, indicating that women participated in these trials at proportions greater than their prevalence in the disease population within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The PPR for men ranged from 0.8 to 1.1. Retention was best with those studies that used administrative data for final outcomes assessment. No studies provided results stratified by sex or conducted analyses to explore treatment effect by sex. Conclusions: At a single site, women participated in Health Services Research and Development trials at similar or greater rates to men without cross-study efforts to enrich the recruitment or retention of women. Adding strategic recruitment approaches could further boost the proportion of women in Department of Veterans Affairs trials and enable adequately powered sex-based analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S121-S130
JournalWomen's Health Issues
StatePublished - Jun 25 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the Durham Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) (CIN 13–410) at the Durham VA Health Care System (formerly known as the Center of Innovation for Health Services Research in Primary Care). Dr. Goldstein is supported by HSR&D CDA 13–263, Dr. Voils is supported by HSR&D RCS 14–443.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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