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Introduction The successful recruitment and retention of participants is integral to the translation of research findings. We examined the recruitment and retention rates of racial/ethnic minority adolescents at a center involved in the National Institutes of Health Obesity Research for Behavioral Intervention Trials (ORBIT) initiative by the 3 recruitment strategies used: clinic, informatics, and community.

Methods During the 9-month study, 186 family dyads, each composed of an obese African American adolescent and a caregiver, enrolled in a 6-month weight-loss intervention, a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial. We compared recruitment and retention rates by recruitment strategy and examined whether recruitment strategy was related to dyad baseline characteristics.

Results Of the 186 enrolled families, 110 (59.1%) were recruited through clinics, 53 (28.5%) through informatics, and 23 (12.4%) through community. Of those recruited through community, 40.4% enrolled in the study, compared with 32.7% through clinics and 8.2% through informatics. Active refusal rate was 3%. Of the 1,036 families identified for the study, 402 passively refused to participate: 290 (45.1%) identified through informatics, 17 (29.8%) through community, and 95 (28.3%) through clinics. Recruitment strategy was not related to the age of the adolescent, adolescent comorbidities, body mass index of the adolescent or caregiver, income or education of the caregiver, or retention rates at 3 months, 7 months, or 9 months. Study retention rate was 87.8%.

Conclusion Using multiple recruitment strategies is beneficial when working with racial/ethnic minority adolescents, and each strategy can yield good retention. Research affiliated with health care systems would benefit from the continued specification, refinement, and dissemination of these strategies.


Originally Published in Preventing Chronic Disease. The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.



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