Methods for tracing, contacting, and recruiting a cohort of survivors of childhood cancer

Ann C. Mertens, John D. Potter, Joseph P. Neglia, Leslie L. Robison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: Due to the use of combined modalities of multiagent chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, many children with a diagnosis of cancer are now surviving into adulthood. This pilot study sought to determine the feasibility of establishing a cohort of childhood cancer survivors and then to develop methods to trace and contact eligible participants. Materials and Methods: A retrospective cohort design was used. Four hundred and forty subjects who were treated for cancer at the University of Minnesota Hospital before the age of 21, between 1970 and 1986, had survived 5 years, and were alive at last contact were eligible. Tracing efforts were undertaken if the address was more than 2 years old or if a letter was returned by the post office. Contact procedures in this study were designed to determine whether participation rates differed according to the method of contact. Results: In this cohort of 440 individuals, 11 had died and were not traced. Of the remaining 429 eligible individuals, 408 (95.1%) were successfully contacted. Successful tracing efforts differed by both current age and age at diagnosis. Once contacted, 370 (90.6%) agreed to participate in this study and returned a baseline health questionnaire. Each method of participation, and the combination of methods, showed similar percentages of participation. Conclusions: Results from this pilot study show that appropriate methods exist to establish a cohort of adults who have not been contacted since childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric hematology/oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1997


  • Data collection
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Participation
  • Questionnaires
  • Retrospective study
  • Survey methods
  • Tracing


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