Challenges of Recruitment of Diverse Populations in Clinical Research




Objective: The recruitment of diverse populations in research is essential for representing marginalized groups. We discuss the successes and challenges of recruiting pregnant-parent dyads for a study examining neonatal decisional authority within diverse partnerships.

Methods: We aimed to recruit 30 adult, first-time pregnant people between 18-26 weeks gestation, along with their partner. Heterosexual, same-sex, married, and unmarried partnerships were recruited to ensure a sample of diverse partnerships. Study advertisements were shared on pregnancy-related Reddit and Facebook groups. Flyers were distributed to OB/GYN clinics, LGBTQ+ healthcare providers, public events, and coffee shops. In-person recruitment at local clinics began in July 2022. Ads included a hyperlink or QR code to direct individuals to a brief screening questionnaire. If deemed eligible, the research team contacted the candidate to confirm eligibility and to schedule interviews. Virtual interviews lasted 1-hour and each participant received a $50 gift card.

Results: A total of 88 (51.4%) individuals were initially eligible. Of those, 35 (39.8%) did not leave contact information and 23 (26.1%) did not respond. To date, 20 parent dyads have been interviewed, with most recruited from Reddit (n=17, 85%). The majority of dyads were white. Four (10%) participants were non-white and four were Hispanic/Latinx. Additionally, 4 (10%) participants identified as LGBTQIA+. All eligible dyads were married. Challenges to recruitment include lacking access to private social media groups, a high prevalence of scammers, unresponsiveness, and difficulty getting buy-in from clinicians to share study ads with patients. In-person recruitment is promising but difficult to coordinate and limits the study’s generalizability.

Conclusions: Online recruitment provides potential for recruiting diverse populations but yields several challenges. This presentation can provide insight for studies needing to recruit these populations.