Recruitment methods for survey research: Findings from the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network

Contemp Clin Trials. 2017 Nov;62:50-55. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 17.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to report survey response rates and demographic characteristics of eight recruitment approaches to determine acceptability and effectiveness of large-scale patient recruitment among various populations.

Methods: We conducted a cross sectional analysis of survey data from two large cohorts. Patients were recruited from the Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network using clinic-based recruitment, research registries, and mail, phone, and email approaches. Response rates are reported as patients who consented for the survey divided by the number of eligible patients approached.

Results: We contacted more than 90,000 patients and 13,197 patients completed surveys. Median age was 56.3years (IQR 40.9, 67.4). Racial/ethnic distribution was 84.1% White, non-Hispanic; 9.9% Black, non-Hispanic; 1.8% Hispanic; and 4.0% other, non-Hispanic. Face-to-face recruitment had the highest response rate of 94.3%, followed by participants who "opted-in" to a registry (76%). The lowest response rate was for unsolicited emails from the clinic (6.1%). Face-to-face recruitment enrolled a higher percentage of participants who self-identified as Black, non-Hispanic compared to other approaches (18.6% face-to-face vs. 8.4% for email).

Conclusions: Technology-enabled recruitment approaches such as registries and emails are effective for recruiting but may yield less racial/ethnic diversity compared to traditional, more time-intensive approaches.

Keywords: Information storage and retrieval; Patient selection; Response rates; Surveys and Questionnaires.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Health Information Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Registries
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • United States