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Gerontologist. 2003 Feb;43(1):36-44.

Recruitment and retention of older minorities in mental health services research.

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Department of Psychiatry, UCSF, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



This article reviews the problems associated with recruiting older minorities into mental health research studies and proposes a consumer-centered model of research methodology that addresses the barriers to recruitment and retention in this population.


The authors discuss and compare the results of recruitment and retention interventions for two geriatric mental health studies, one that used traditional methods of recruitment and retention and another that used consumer-centered methods.


Although the consumer-centered methods result in better recruitment of older minorities in general (chi(2) = 54.90, p <.001), it was not superior to the traditional method in recruiting older minorities (chi(2) = 0.82, ns). However, the consumer-centered approach yielded better retention of older minorities (chi(2) = 6.20, p <.05) than did the traditional method. Within both methods, recruitment through provider referral and face-to-face contact were the superior recruitment methods (chi(2) = 6.78, p <.05). Having an experienced recruiter or a community recruiter resulted in greater agreement to participate than simply having an ethnically matched recruiter (chi(2) = 36.00, p <.001).


Although these data are observational, and rigorous research on the best methods for recruiting and retaining older minorities is still necessary, the results suggest that a consumer-centered model of research yields greater overall recruitment and retention rates than do traditional research methods.

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