Background: The recruitment of participants into community-based randomized controlled trials studying childhood obesity is often challenging, especially from low-income racial/ethnical minorities and when long-term participant commitments are required. This paper describes strategies used to recruit and enroll predominately low-income racial/ethnic minority parents and children into the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment Research (COPTR) consortium. Methods: The COPTR consortium has run four independent 3-year, multi-level (individual, family, school, clinic, and community) community-based randomized controlled trials. Two were prevention trials in preschool children and the other two were treatment trials in pre-adolescents and adolescent youth. All trials reported monthly participant recruitment numbers using a standardized method over the projected 18-24 months of recruitment. After randomization of participants was completed, recruitment staff and investigators from each trial retrospectively completed a survey of recruitment strategies and their perceived top three recruitment strategies and barriers. Results: Recruitment was completed in 15-21 months across trials, enrolling a total of 1745 parent-child dyads- out of 6314 screened. The number of children screened per randomized child was 4.6 and 3.5 in the two prevention trials, and 3.1 and 2.5 in the two treatment trials. Recruitment strategies reported included: (1) careful planning, (2) working with trusting community partners, (3) hiring recruitment staff who were culturally sensitive, personality appropriate, and willing to work flexible hours, (4) contacting potential participants actively and repeatedly, (5) recruiting at times and locations convenient for participants, (6) providing incentives to participants to complete baseline measures, (7) using a tracking database, (8) evaluating whether participants understand the activities and expectations of the study, and (9) assessing participants' motivation for participating. Working with community partners, hiring culturally sensitive staff, and contacting potential participants repeatedly were cited by two trials among their top three strategies. The requirement of a 3-year commitment to the trial was cited by two trials to be among the top three recruitment barriers. Conclusions: Comprehensive strategies that include community partnership support, culturally sensitive recruitment staff, and repeated contacts with potential participants can result in successful recruitment of low-income racial/ethnic minority families into obesity prevention and treatment trials.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by grants U01 HL103561, U01 HL103620, U01 HL103622, U01 HL103629, and U01 HD068890 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. This work was also supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (grants R21DK078239, P30DK050456, and P30DK092924). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, or the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment Research (COPTR) consortium is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and evaluate four distinct multi-level (individual, family, school, clinic, and community) and multi-component community-based child obesity prevention and treatment trials, including individualized recruitment protocols. The COPTR consortium collaborated to share, refine, and document recruitment strategies systematically and successfully enrolled 1745 low-income racially/ethnically diverse parent–child dyads. A retrospective reflection of the COPTR recruitment experience offers a unique opportunity to identify strategies that resulted in successful recruitment in this hard-to-enroll population.
© 2019 The Author(s).
- African American
- Parent-child dyads