Methods to Optimize Recruitment and Retention to an Exercise Study in Chinese Immigrants

BACKGROUND: To counter pervasive disparities in healthcare and guide public health prevention programs, culturally sensitive recruitment and retention strategies for Chinese immigrants participating in health-related research studies are needed. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to develop and implement recruitment and retention strategies with Chinese immigrants in a Tai Chi exercise study. METHODS: After substantial project planning and incorporating community-based research principles, a multidimensional approach was used to ensure minimal loss to follow-up. Recruitment strategies included partnering with a community-based agency, distributing study information using a multimedia approach, communicating in the native language, and demonstrating cultural sensitivity. Retention strategies included establishing a tracking method during recruitment, providing personalized feedback, maintaining the same location for all aspects of the study, eliminating potential linguistic barriers, providing personal attention and encouragement, monitoring attendance, utilizing a charismatic Tai Chi instructor, respecting Chinese culture, providing appropriate incentives, and maintaining good communication. RESULTS: Sixty persons showed interest in the study, 52 persons were screened, and 39 persons were enrolled. Recruitment was completed within 3 weeks. An advertisement in the Chinese newspaper was the most fruitful recruitment source, yielding approximately 60% of the study participants. Retention in the study was also very high (97%, n = 38). DISCUSSION: The successful recruitment and retention of Chinese immigrants in this Tai Chi exercise study are due to a variety of factors on many levels, including the participants, study investigator, and community-based agency.