Recruitment and retention of pregnant women into clinical research trials: an overview of challenges, facilitators, and best practices

Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Dec 15;59 Suppl 7(Suppl 7):S400-7. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu726.


Pregnant women are a vulnerable group who are needed in clinical research studies to advance prevention and treatment options for this population. Yet, pregnant women remain underrepresented in clinical research. Through the lens of the socioecological model, we highlight reported barriers and facilitators to recruitment and retention of pregnant women in studies that sought their participation. We trace historical, policy-based reasons for the exclusion of pregnant women in clinical studies to present-day rationale for inclusion of this group. The findings highlight why it has been difficult to recruit and retain this population over time. A body of literature suggests that integrative sampling and recruitment methods that leverage the influence and reach of prenatal providers will overcome recruitment challenges. We argue that these strategies, in combination with building strong engagement with existing community-based organizations, will enable teams to more effectively promote and retain pregnant women in future longitudinal cohort studies.

Keywords: clinical research trials; pregnant women; recruitment; retention; vulnerable populations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomedical Research
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*