National Institute on Aging
Recruitment and Retention
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RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION TIPS
? Develop a recruitment plan during the protocol planning stage.
? Avoid unnecessarily restrictive inclusion and exclusion criteria; think about the
widest net, not the “perfect” participant.
? Develop a profile of prospective study participants with consideration for:
o What would motivate individuals to join the study.
o Sources from which they obtain information.
o Radio and television stations and programs they listen to and watch.
o Where they live, work, shop, and play.
o Media outlets to use for recruitment advertisements.
o Caregivers and relatives that might serve as referral sources.
o Community organizations (e.g., local churches, etc.) that might promote
the study and encourage participation if educated about he
disease/problem and the need for participation in studies.
? Review recruitment, dropout, and screening success rates from previous studies
and implement strategies that build on previous successes and incorporate
? Consider assessments at locations convenient for participants.
? Consider offering participants transportation to and from the study site.
? Choose appropriate staff members to conduct recruitment.
? Consider costs for start-up training, advertising, staff time, and other expenses.
? Develop a compensation strategy for participants’ time and expenses.
? Add costs for ongoing participant contact such as holiday and birthday cards.
? Consider items that provide study identification – key chains, sweat shirts, pill
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Once the Study Starts…
? Participants Come First ? Contact interested candidates as soon as possible. The longer an individual
waits before hearing back from study staff, the less likely it is that he or she will
ultimately enroll in the study.
? Stress the importance of compliance during the informed consent interview and
throughout the study.
? Establish rapport with the participants.
? Remember that retention:
o begins with the participant’s first visit.
o is an ongoing process.
o is everyone’s responsibility.
? Treat participants and their caregivers with respect.
? Assure a welcoming atmosphere where participants are seen.
? Be considerate of the participant’s time.
? Identify and resolve issues in a timely manner.
? Use the Referral Sources ? Network with clinic staff not working on the study.
? Network with other local health care providers.
? Send direct mailings to selected health care providers.
? Give presentations about the study for clinic staff and provide periodic updates
on the study’s progress. ? Participate in health fairs, speaking engagements, support groups, television
and radio interviews, and other forums.
? Ask for public service announcements on radio and television.
? Track Progress
? Track the number of participants enrolled against expected per site.
? Monitor recruitment and intervene quickly to change recruitment techniques that
are proving unsuccessful.
? Identify barriers to recruitment.
? Do not stop at one strategy; incorporate all that work for the study.
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? Implement Retention Strategies
? Consider modifying the MOP to streamline assessments and procedures that
are excessively burdensome and time consuming.
? Use regular teleconferences with project staff at study sites to “brainstorm” on
? Send reminder notes to let the participant know you will be calling shortly for
their next assessment.
? Be persistent. Document all attempts to contact participants, and keep trying.
? Ensure that all of these efforts preserve the privacy of the participant.
? Use the contact information for a missing participant that has not withdrawn
consent. The telephone numbers for friends and/or relatives in the contact log
should be accessed to locate the participant. If the participant has given consent
for home visits, visit the participant’s home.
? Use public information to try to locate the participant. For example, in some
states, the motor vehicle administration and other government agencies will
release an individual’s contact information if it is considered to be part of the
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