Challenges of Recruitment of Diverse Populations in Clinical Research


  • C King Indiana University School of Medicine
  • H Witting Indiana University School of Medicine
  • S Hoffman Indiana University School of Medicine
  • BT Edmonds Indiana University School of Medicine


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.






Indiana Medical Student Program for Research and Scholarship Award Finalists