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Trials. 2013 Apr 30;14:116. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-14-116.

Examining the challenges of family recruitment to behavioral intervention trials: factors associated with participation and enrollment in a multi-state colonoscopy intervention trial.

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  • 1Huntsman Cancer Institute, 2000 Circle of Hope, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.



Colonoscopy is one of the most effective methods of cancer prevention and detection, particularly for individuals with familial risk. Recruitment of family members to behavioral intervention trials remains uniquely challenging, owing to the intensive process required to identify and contact them. Recruiting at-risk family members involves contacting the original cancer cases and asking them to provide information about their at-risk relatives, who must then be contacted for study enrollment. Though this recruitment strategy is common in family trials, few studies have compared influences of patient and relative participation to nonparticipation. Furthermore, although use of cancer registries to identify initial cases has increased, to our knowledge no study has examined the relationship between registries and family recruitment outcomes.


This study assessed predictors of case participation and relative enrollment in a recruitment process that utilized state cancer registries. Participation characteristics were analyzed with separate multivariable logistic regressions in three stages: (1) cancer registry-contacted colorectal cancer (CRC) cases who agreed to study contact; (2) study-contacted CRC cases who provided at-risk relative information; and (3) at-risk relatives contacted for intervention participation.


Cancer registry source was predictive of participation for both CRC cases and relatives, though relative associations (odds ratios) varied across registries. Cases were less likely to participate if they were Hispanic or nonwhite, and were more likely to participate if they were female or younger than 50 at cancer diagnosis. At-risk relatives were more likely to participate if they were from Utah, if another family member was also participating in the study, or if they had previously had a colonoscopy. The number of eligible cases who had to be contacted to enroll one eligible relative varied widely by registry, from 7 to 81.


Family recruitment utilizing cancer registry-identified cancer cases is feasible, but highly dependent on both the strategies and protocols of those who are recruiting and on participant characteristics such as sex, race, or geography. Devising comprehensive recruitment protocols that specifically target those less likely to enroll may help future research meet recruitment goals.


Family Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Risk Education Project NCT01274143.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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