Purpose: This study reports on methods and strategies employed to increase participation rates in diabetes interventions and discusses the reach and representativeness of the Diabetes Priority Program.
Methods: A passive mail-out procedure was used to contact patients of participating primary care physicians. Patients who did not return the refusal postcard were contacted. Several attempts were made to contact potential participants. Brochures, "wrong number" postcards, posters, and reports for clinic staff were strategies used to increase participation.
Results: The recruitment process resulted in a participation rate of 83% among patients who were contacted and eligible. These participants appeared to be representative of both nonparticipants and persons with diabetes in Colorado. In contrast, a low percentage of primary care physicians, estimated at 3%, took part in the program despite efforts to make the program brief, nonintrusive, and compatible with usual care.
Conclusions: Recruitment is currently challenging and will become even more difficult with the privacy regulations that affect healthcare research and the public distrust of solicitations. To increase participation rates, it is important that the clinic staff promotes and supports the program, and that participant lists are accurate and adequate in size.