Factors Influencing Successful Recruitment of Racial and Ethnic Minority Patients for an Observational HIV Cohort Study in Washington, DC

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2021 Mar 15. doi: 10.1007/s40615-021-01015-6. Online ahead of print.


The process of recruiting racial and ethnic minority persons living with HIV (PLWH) is important for research studies to ensure inclusivity of underrepresented groups. To understand factors associated with recruitment of minority PLWH, this study examined the recruitment process of PLWH for an observational study of their routine medical care at 14 clinics in Washington, DC. Research assistant (RA) recruiters were interviewed to assess their consenting processes and strategies. Data were collected on clinic services, patient demographics, and recruitment logs of patient approaches for obtaining informed consent resulting in agreement or refusal. A median of 96% of eligible patients was approached to obtain consent, yielding a median consent rate of 78% across all sites. A total of 8438 patients consented and 1326 refused study participation. Clinical sites with more comprehensive services had higher consent rates. black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx PLWH consented or refused study participation in similar proportions, while significantly more white patients enrolled than refused. More men, compared with women, enrolled than refused study participation. The most frequent reasons for refusing study participation were the lack of interest in research (33.2%) and no specific reason provided (28%). RAs identified that effective recruitment strategies used culturally sensitive approaches, built rapport with patients, and obtained provider support for the study. Recruitment strategies that are gender sensitive to address the disparity of underrepresentation of women, address perceived barriers, and examine clinic-specific services are needed to maximize research participation for minority PLWH to improve prevention and health outcomes.

Keywords: Cohort study; Ethnic and racial minorities; HIV; Informed consent; Patient recruitment.