Recruiting older adults to health research studies: A systematic review

Australas J Ageing. 2009 Sep;28(3):149-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6612.2009.00362.x.


Aim: To provide a systematic review of papers comparing the effectiveness of different strategies to recruit older adults (aged 50 years and over) to participate in health research studies, to guide successful recruitment in future research.

Methods: Four major databases were searched for papers published between 1995 and 2008 with: target group aged 50 years or over; participants allocated to receive one of two or more recruitment strategies; and an outcome measure of response rate or enrolment in study.

Results: Twelve papers were included in the review.

Conclusion: For postal questionnaires, recruitment strategies used with older adults had comparable outcomes to those used to recruit from the general population. For other types of studies, strategies involving face-to-face contact may be more effective than indirect methods, but this needs to be balanced against feasibility. Overall, little evidence on the topic exists and more rigorous investigation is necessary.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Selection*