Objective: The purpose of the current study is to describe the development, implementation, and success of recruitment and adherence strategies of 303 African American preadolescent girls and their primary caregiver in the Girls health Enrichment Multi-site Studies (GEMS) program.
Methods: A socio-ecologic model was used to guide selection and implementation of recruitment and retention strategies which were continuously monitored and revised in response. Strategy mode and frequency associated with program enrollment, engagement, and retention were analyzed.
Results: Successful recruitment approaches included radio messages (23.1%), school fliers (20.1%), and friend referral (15%). Initially 463 potential participants responded, 320 girls were screened, and 303 enrolled. Significant increases in participant accrual were observed between Wave 4 (n=28) and Wave 5 (n=91) after using a team recruitment approach. Implementing case management strategies and providing make-up sessions also served to keep participants current and engaged in the program. In year 2, community field trips replaced the more structured sessions providing participants with experiential learning opportunities. Overall intervention attendance rates ranged from 79.7% to 90.5% among waves. Further, 75.9% and 80.2%, respectively, of participants attended 1-year and 2-year follow-ups.
Conclusion: Multiple recruitment strategies and flexible, responsive approaches to recruitment and retention guided by the socio-ecologic model facilitated optimal implementation of an intervention for preadolescent girls. Through the application of the socio-ecologic model researchers and program leaders will be able to identify strategies to enhance the probability of successful outcomes.
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