Are we missing anything? Pursuing research on attrition

Can J Nurs Res. 2004 Sep;36(3):82-98.


Attrition, or loss of participants over the course of a study, presents a significant threat to the integrity of a longitudinal research study and theory development resulting from the study. Although there has been a recent resurgence of interest in attrition, it is an underreported and understudied phenomenon despite its potential to introduce bias. Internal and external validity, reliability, and statistical validity are all impacted by a small sample and, most likely, a non-randomness in the study sample. Development of a theory of attrition will assist researchers in development of sampling strategies that will enhance the quality of their data in longitudinal designs. An ecological theoretical model of research participation is proposed and described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration*
  • Patient Dropouts* / psychology
  • Patient Dropouts* / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Selection
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Research Personnel / psychology
  • Sample Size
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Environment