Recruiting and retaining family caregivers to a randomized controlled trial on mindfulness-based stress reduction

Robin R. Whitebird, Mary Jo Kreitzer, Beth A. Lewis, Leah R. Hanson, A. Lauren Crain, Chris J. Enstad, Adele Mehta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Caregivers for a family member with dementia experience chronic long-term stress that may benefit from new complementary therapies such as mindfulness-based stress reduction. Little is known however, about the challenges of recruiting and retaining family caregivers to research on mind-body based complementary therapies. Our pilot study is the first of its kind to successfully recruit caregivers for a family member with dementia to a randomized controlled pilot study of mindfulness-based stress reduction. The study used an array of recruitment strategies and techniques that were tailored to fit the unique features of our recruitment sources and employed retention strategies that placed high value on establishing early and ongoing communication with potential participants. Innovative recruitment methods including conducting outreach to health plan members and generating press coverage were combined with standard methods of community outreach and paid advertising. We were successful in exceeding our recruitment goal and retained 92% of the study participants at post-intervention (2 months) and 90% at 6 months. Recruitment and retention for family caregiver interventions employing mind-body based complementary therapies can be successful despite many challenges. Barriers include cultural perceptions about the use and benefit of complementary therapies, cultural differences with how the role of family caregiver is perceived, the use of group-based designs requiring significant time commitment by participants, and travel and respite care needs for busy family caregivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-661
Number of pages8
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by a grant from the National Center for Complementary Medicine , National Institutes of Health [ R21 AT003654-01A1 ]. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NCCAM, or the National Institutes of Health.


  • Chronic stress
  • Complementary therapies
  • Family caregiver
  • Participant retention
  • Recruitment challenges


Dive into the research topics of 'Recruiting and retaining family caregivers to a randomized controlled trial on mindfulness-based stress reduction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this