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N. J. Ellish, D. Scott, R. Royak-Schaler, E. J. Higginbotham; Recruitment Strategies for Enrolling Older, African Americans Into a Clinical Trial to Increase Eye Examination Behavior. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):2507.
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Although studies have addressed strategies for recruiting African Americans and older participants into clinical trials, information is still limited regarding applying and evaluating these recruitment strategies in disease prevention and health promotion studies. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe our recruitment procedures, focusing on the strategies we successfully used in conducting a behavioral intervention study to increase eye examination behavior in a community-dwelling urban population of older African-Americans.
After identifying sites targeting older African-American, including senior centers, senior housing, and church groups, we conducted presentations, networked with community organizations, placed ads on the radio and in newspapers, and attended health fairs. Potential participants also called in response to our flyers and through word of mouth. To be eligible to participate, an individual had to be 65 years or older, African American, with no dilated fundus exam for two years prior to enrollment.
We screened 688 potential participants, with 330 (48%) enrolling, representing 72% of those eligible. 228 (33%) were deemed ineligible, and 130 (19%) either refused to participate or could not be contacted. Highest enrollment yields were for word of mouth, flyers, and senior centers, where 69%, 67%, and 66%, respectively of those screened enrolled. Approximately 80% of those screened in response to radio ads and 59% in response to newspaper ads were ineligible. Barriers to participation included hesitancy of seniors to leave their apartments to attend presentations, memory issues, and competing health issues taking precedence over eye concerns.
Using a multi-faceted recruitment approach, with a primary focus on face-to-face presentations, and a concentrated effort at senior housing locations, we successfully recruited 330 older African Americans into a behavioral intervention study. Active recruitment efforts can be supplemented with more passive methods, like posting flyers at venues frequented by seniors and by having current participants tell their friends and relatives about the study. Establishing relationships in the community, both prior to initiating recruitment activities and as an ongoing process, was important to the success of this study.
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