Strategies for recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for a clinical trial. BMC medical research methodology Huang, B., De Vore, D., Chirinos, C., Wolf, J., Low, D., Willard-Grace, R., Tsao, S., Garvey, C., Donesky, D., Su, G., Thom, D. H. 2019; 19 (1): 39


BACKGROUND: Recruitment and retention are two significant barriers in research, particularly for historically underrepresented groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, patients who are low-income, or people with substance use or mental health issues. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death and disproportionately affects many underrepresented groups. The lack of representation of these groups in research limits the generalizability and applicability of clinical research and results. In this paper we describe our experience and rates of recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups for the Aides in Respiration (AIR) COPD Health Coaching Study.METHODS: A priori design strategies included minimizing exclusion criteria, including patients in the study process, establishing partnerships with the community clinics, and ensuring that the health coaching intervention was flexible enough to accommodate patient needs.RESULTS: Challenges to recruitment included lack of spirometric data in patient records, space constraints at the clinic sites, barriers to patient access to clinic sites, lack of current patient contact information and poor patient health. Of 282 patients identified as eligible, 192 (68%) were enrolled in the study and 158 (82%) completed the study. Race, gender, educational attainment, severity of disease, health literacy, and clinic site were not associated with recruitment or retention. However, older patients were less likely to enroll in the study and patients who used home oxygen or had more than one hospitalization during the study period were less likely to complete the study. Three key strategies to maximize recruitment and retention were identified during the study: incorporating the patient perspective, partnering with the community clinics, and building patient rapport.CONCLUSIONS: While the AIR study included design features to maximize the recruitment and retention of patients from underrepresented groups, additional challenges were encountered and responded to during the study. We also identified three key strategies recommended for future studies of COPD and similar conditions. Incorporating the approaches described into future studies may increase participation rates from underrepresented groups, providing results that can be more accurately applied to patients who carry a disparate burden of disease.TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial was registered at at identifier NCT02234284 on August 12, 2014. Descriptor number: 2.9 Racial, ethnic, or social disparities in lung disease and treatment.

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