Comparison of recruitment and retention among demographic subgroups in a large diverse population study of diet

Contemp Clin Trials Commun. 2017 Jun;6:140-146. doi: 10.1016/j.conctc.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Objective: We examined the feasibility of conducting a longitudinal study of diet among diverse populations by comparing rates of response throughout recruitment and retention phases by demographic and other characteristics.

Methods: Using quota sampling, participants were recruited from 3 geographically and demographically diverse integrated health systems in the United States. Overall, 12,860 adults, ages 20-70, were invited to participate via mail. Participation first required accessing the study's website and later meeting eligibility criteria via telephone interview. Enrollees were asked to provide two 24-hour dietary recalls, either interviewer-administered or self-administered on the web, over 6 weeks. Stepped monetary incentives were provided.

Results: Rates for accessing the study website ranged from 6% to 23% (9% overall) across sites. Site differences may reflect differences in recruitment strategy or target samples. Of those accessing the website, enrollment was high (≥ 87%). Of the 1185 enrollees, 42% were non-Hispanic white, 34% were non-Hispanic black, and 24% were Hispanic. Men and minorities had lower enrollment rates than women and non-Hispanic whites, partially due to less successful telephone contact for eligibility screening. Once enrolled, 90% provided 1 recall and 80% provided both. Women had higher retention rates than men, as did older compared to younger participants. Retention rates were similar across race/ethnicity groups.

Conclusions: While study recruitment remains challenging, once recruited most participants, regardless of race/ethnicity, completed two 24-hour dietary recalls, both interviewer-administered and self-administered on the web. This study demonstrates the feasibility of collecting multiple 24-hour recalls including less expensive automated self-administered recalls among diverse populations.

Keywords: automated nutritional assessment; diet survey; experimental design; population; recruitment; retention.