Recruitment and retention into longitudinal health research from an adolescent perspective: a qualitative study

Jong, Stephanie T., Stevenson, Rebecca, Winpenny, Eleanor M., Corder, Kirsten and van Sluijs, Esther M. F. (2023) Recruitment and retention into longitudinal health research from an adolescent perspective: a qualitative study. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 23. ISSN 1471-2288

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Background: High quality longitudinal studies investigating changes in health behaviours over the transition into early adulthood are critical. However, recruiting and retaining adolescents is challenging. This study explored adolescents’ perspectives of signing up to and continuing involvement in a hypothetical longitudinal health research study. Methods: Forty-eight individuals (15-20y) participated in nine in-person focus groups about recruitment and retention in research. Participants were (a) school students in the last year of compulsory school (Year 11, 15-16y), (b) school/college students in Sixth Form (Year 13, 17-18y), (c) Further Education students studying after secondary education, but not higher education (16-18y) and (d) young adults not in education, employment, or training (18-20y) across England. Thematic analysis resulted in seven themes. Results: Driving factors for sign-up included social connection e.g., joining with peer groups, personalised feedback, and incentives, primarily financial. Key barriers were lack of interest, the perception of commitment, and timing of recruitment. Young people preferred recruitment processes via social media with messages tailored to their motivations, monthly data collection of maximally 20–30 min, and hybrid data collection with some in-person contact with a consistent, non-judgemental researcher. The provision of autonomy, choice, and financial incentives were perceived to promote retention. Conclusions: Adolescent recruitment and retention strategies need to align with contemporary interests and motivations. Studies should involve adolescents early to develop a planned, systematic approach to participant sign-up and follow-up. Effective and ineffective recruitment and retention strategies should be reported as part of study findings. Future research should trial how perceived barriers to study engagement can be overcome.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: This work was supported by the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council [grant number MC_UU_00006/5]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Rights retention statement: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescent,early adulthood,longitudinal,recruitment,retention,study participation,transition,epidemiology,health informatics ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2713
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Health Promotion
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Centres > Lifespan Health
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2023 18:30
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 10:33
DOI: 10.1186/s12874-022-01802-7


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