Recruitment strategies and challenges: Lessons learned from a coal ash and children's health study

Academic Article


  • The purpose of this paper is to describe the approaches and recruitment strategies of a study focused on the impact of coal fly ash on neurobehavioral performance among children living in proximity to coal-burning power plants. Challenges encountered with each recruitment approach are highlighted as well as solutions used to overcome those challenges and ultimately enroll children and one of their parents or guardians. To ensure participants were distributed throughout the study area, geographical information systems were used to guide recruitment and achieve the target sample size (N = 300). Several approaches were employed to recruit the number of needed participants, including “shoe leather” or door-to-door recruitment, placement of flyers and brochures in public spaces, mailings to targeted addresses, media announcements, and local government outreach. Since September 2015, 265 participants have been enrolled in the study using a combination of the described recruitment approaches. Even with a well-designed plan, it is important to re-examine strategies at every step to maximize recruitment efforts. Researcher flexibility in adapting to new strategies is vital in facilitating recruitment efforts, and the recruitment of participants in the study remains a dynamic and evolving process.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Odoh C; Sears CG; Tompkins LK; Hagemeyer AN; Pfeiffer JA; Polivka BJ; Sears L; Brock GN; Zhang C; Zierold KM
  • Start Page

  • 446
  • End Page

  • 457
  • Volume

  • 42
  • Issue

  • 6