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Recruiting hard-to-reach populations to physical activity studies : evidence and experiences

Mutrie, Nanette and Foster, C. and Estabrooks, P and Burton, N. W. and Baker, Graham (2010) Recruiting hard-to-reach populations to physical activity studies : evidence and experiences. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 7 (Supple). pp. 329-331. ISSN 1543-3080

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Abstract

Most researchers who are conducting research with a public health focus face difficulties in recruiting the segments of the population that they really want to reach. This symposium presented evidence and experiences on recruiting participants to physical activity research, including both epidemiological and intervention based studies. Results from a systematic review of recruitment strategies suggested that we know little about how best to recruit and highlighted the need for researchers to report this in more detail, including metrics of reach into the target population such as number, proportion, and representativeness of participants. Specific strategies used to optimise responses to a population-based mail survey were presented such as study promotion, survey design, multiple mailings, and personal engagement. Finally, using place based recruiting via schools or places of worship to target ethnic minority youth were discussed. Overall the symposium presenters suggested that we need to learn more about how best to recruit participants, in particular those typically under-represented, and that researchers need to apportion a similar amount of planning effort to their recruitment strategies as they do the their research design. Finally we made a plea for researchers to report their recruitment processes in detail.