A pragmatic examination of active and passive recruitment methods to improve the reach of community lifestyle programs: The Talking Health Trial
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Abstract Background A primary challenge for behavior change strategies is ensuring that interventions can be effective while also attracting a broad and representative sample of the target population. The purpose of this case-study was to report on (1) the reach of a randomized controlled trial targeting reduced sugary beverages, (2) potential participant characteristic differences based on active versus passive recruitment strategies, and (3) recruitment strategy cost. Methods Demographic and recruitment information was obtained for 8 counties and for individuals screened for participation. Personnel activities and time were tracked. Costs were calculated and compared by active versus passive recruitment. Results Six-hundred and twenty, of 1,056 screened, individuals were eligible and 301enrolled (77% women; 90% white; mean income $21,981 ± 16,443). Eighty-two and 44% of those responding to passive and active methods, respectively, enrolled in the trial. However, active recruitment strategies yielded considerably more enrolled (active = 199; passive = 102) individuals. Passive recruitment strategies yielded a less representative sample in terms of gender (more women), education (higher), and income (higher; p’s <0.05). The average cost of an actively recruited and enrolled participant was $278 compared to $117 for a passively recruited and enrolled participant. Conclusions Though passive recruitment is more cost efficient it may reduce the reach of sugary drink reduction strategies in lower educated and economic residents in rural communities. Trial registration Clinicaltrials.gov; ID: NCT02193009 , July 2014, retrospectively registered.