Recruitment strategies for minority participation: challenges and cost lessons from the POWER interview

Ethn Dis. Summer 2005;15(3):395-406.


Background: The importance of recruiting and retaining women from diverse populations is well recognized; however, the recruitment process often presents greater challenges at higher costs than initially anticipated.

Objectives: To describe recruitment strategies and costs from a study evaluating women's preferences regarding tamoxifen use for primary prevention of breast cancer.

Design: Description and analysis of recruitment strategies, outcomes, and costs for a cross-sectional interview study.

Setting: University hospital and community sites.

Participants: 932 racially and ethnically diverse women respondents, of whom 771 completed the screening process (aged 27-87).

Intervention: Women were recruited and screened by using the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Program (BCRA version 1, National Cancer Institute). Eligibility required an estimated five-year breast cancer risk of at least 1.7%. Recruitment goals targeted a high percentage of ethnic minorities.

Methods: Recruitment strategies included direct mail, flyers, newspapers, media advertising, and community outreach.

Results: Of the 771 screened women, 341 (44%) met eligibility criteria and 255 (33%) completed interviews (76.9% White, 10.6% Latina, 7.0% Asian, 3.9% African American, 1.6% Native American). Recruitment costs averaged US $113/screened participant. Direct mail and community contact yielded the largest number of participants (312 screened, 205 eligible). Radio advertising provided few participants (one screened, one eligible) at high cost.

Conclusions: Recruiting an ethnically diverse sample presented multiple challenges. We recommend that future studies budget adequately for recruitment time and costs, develop ongoing relationships with key community leaders, evaluate recruitment strategies closely, and report detailed recruitment findings to the research community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advertising
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • California
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Selection*
  • Postal Service
  • Research / economics
  • Research / organization & administration*
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Tamoxifen