Successful Strategies for Practice-Based Recruitment of Racial and Ethnic Minority Pregnant Women in a Randomized Controlled Trial: the IDEAS for a Healthy Baby Study

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2016 Dec;3(4):731-737. doi: 10.1007/s40615-015-0192-x. Epub 2016 Apr 11.


Background: Racial/ethnic minority patients are often underrepresented in clinical trials. Efforts to address barriers to participation may improve representation, thus enhancing our understanding of how research findings apply to more diverse populations.

Methods: The IDEAS (Information, Description, Education, Assistance, and Support) for a Healthy Baby study was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an intervention to reduce barriers to using publicly reported quality data for low-income, racial/ethnic minority women. We used strategies grounded in a health equity framework to address barriers to recruitment and retention in three domains: preparation, process, and patient-centeredness. "Preparation" included teaching study staff about health inequities, role-playing skills to develop rapport and trust, and partnering with clinic staff. "Processes" included use of electronic registration systems to pre-screen potential candidates and determine when eligible participants were in clinic and an electronic database to track patients through the study. Use of a flexible protocol, stipends, and consideration of literacy levels promoted "patient-centeredness."

Results: We anticipated needing to recruit 800 women over 18 months to achieve a completion goal of 650. Using the recruitment and retention strategies outlined above, we recruited 746 women in 15 months, achieving higher recruitment (87.1 %) and retention rates (97.3 %) than we had anticipated.

Discussion: These successful recruitment and retention strategies used for a large RCT promoted inclusivity and accessibility. Researchers seeking to recruit racial and ethnic minority pregnant women in similar settings may find the preparation, process, and patient-centered strategies used in this study applicable for their own studies.

Trial registration: NCT01784575 , 1R21HS021864-01.

Keywords: Low socioeconomic status; Pregnant women; Racial and ethnic minority; Randomized controlled trial; Recruitment; Retention.

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Minority Groups*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Racial Groups
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Research Design

Associated data