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Recruitment and retention of participants from socioeconomically deprived communities: lessons from the awareness and beliefs about cancer (ABACus3) randomised controlled trial

Kolovou, Vasiliki, Moriarty, Yvonne ORCID:, Gilbert, Stephanie, Quinn-Scoggins, Harriet ORCID:, Townson, Julia ORCID:, Padgett, Louise, Owen, Sioned, Buckle, Peter, Edwards, Adrian ORCID:, Hepburn, Julie, Lau, Mandy, Matthews, Maura, Mitchell, Caroline, Neal, Richard, Playle, Rebecca ORCID:, Robling, Michael ORCID:, Smits, Stephanie ORCID:, Trubey, Roberty, Wood, Fiona ORCID: and Brain, Kate ORCID: 2020. Recruitment and retention of participants from socioeconomically deprived communities: lessons from the awareness and beliefs about cancer (ABACus3) randomised controlled trial. BMC Medical Research Methodology 20 , 272. 10.1186/s12874-020-01149-x

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Background Recruitment of research participants poses challenges in socioeconomically deprived areas. The Awareness and Beliefs About Cancer (ABACus) phase 3 Randomised Control Trial recruited adult participants from socioeconomically deprived areas using a combined healthcare/community engagement model. We report the strategies used to successfully recruit and retain our trial participant sample. Methods Community and healthcare settings in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation were identified by lay advisors who recruited participants opportunistically or by appointment. Follow-up was done by telephone or post at 2-weeks and 6-months after recruitment, and all participants were offered financial incentives. Qualitative interviews were conducted with lay advisors regarding their experience and reflections. Results The lay advisors identified and contacted 107 potential recruitment venues across South and West Yorkshire and South East Wales of which 41.1% (n = 42) were opened for recruitment. A total of 234 participants were recruited, with 91% (n = 212) retention at 2-weeks and 85% (n = 199) at 6-months. Community settings yielded 75% (n = 176) of participants. Participants had a mean age of 61.3 years and 63.3% (n = 148) were female, with 66% (n = 154) resident in the most deprived geographical areas. Lay advisors described recruitment as intensive, although engaging participants was easier in community settings. Conclusions The ABACus3 trial achieved recruitment and high retention with a population that is often “hard to reach” or entirely missed in health research. Strategies were specifically tailored to engage the venues and adult residents of highly deprived areas. Future studies recruiting adults living in the most deprived areas might benefit from community recruitment and from collaborating with local gatekeepers who are key to engagement.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2288
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 October 2020
Date of Acceptance: 14 October 2020
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 19:23

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