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Ethn Health. 2007 Nov;12(5):497-519.

Recruiting low-income healthy women to research: an exploratory study.

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  • 1University of California, Comprehensive Cancer Center and Institute for Health Policy Studies, San Francisco, CA 94143-0981, USA.



The study goals were (1) to assess the feasibility of using an existing telephone health information and referral service for low-income, ethnically diverse women to recruit women for research participation; (2) to assess the feasibility of recruiting low-income, African American and Latino men into health research through the women callers to the telephone service; and (3) to describe the challenges women face and the strategies they use when talking to men about the men's health and research participation.


We recruited women for individual semi-structured qualitative interviews via the Every Woman Counts (EWC) telephone information and referral service, a California Department of Health Services Cancer Detection Program. This paper describes our eligibility and recruitment assessment, and our qualitative data from 23 interviews with low-income African American and Latino women who called EWC.


We found that it was feasible to recruit women, but not to recruit men through women who call this telephone service. Almost 50% (113) of women demographically eligible for recruitment, completed our screening questionnaire, despite calling EWC for a different purpose. Some 48% (54) of those women were eligible for an interview. Of interview-eligible women, 58% (10) of African Americans and 35% (13) of Latinos completed an interview. Only 17% (4) of women referred a man for participation in an interview for our study. Several themes emerged from our analysis of interview data: (1) women's role in men's health can be significant but is often uneasy; (2) challenges when talking to men about their health include health access, gender dynamics, and men's fear of health care; (3) women's understanding of research may be limited; (4) women use a range of strategies to address and overcome men's resistance to taking care of their health and participating in research.


The challenges women face when talking with men about their health affect their ability to effectively speak to men about research participation. However, EWC and similar telephone health services may be an effective means for recruiting low-income women to chemoprevention and other studies requiring healthy participants.

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