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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):827-33. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-06-0528.

Recruitment in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian (PLCO) cancer screening trial: the first phase of recruitment at Henry Ford Health System.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics and Research Epidemiology, Henry Ford Health System, One Ford Place-5C, Detroit, MI 48125, USA.



Recruitment of healthy subjects to long-term randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of cancer prevention or early detection has proven to be a difficult task. To quantify recruitment yield as well as characteristics of successfully recruited participants, we examined recruitment outcomes at 1 of the 10 centers participating in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, a National Cancer Institute-funded RCT of cancer screening modalities.


During the early recruitment phase of PLCO (1993-1997), data on recruitment outcome were collected at the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Detroit, Michigan. In this phase, HFHS identified potential participants using patient databases. Records were used to assess recruitment success by age, sex, race, household income (using area-based U.S. Census data), and preexisting morbidity. Logistic regression was used to assess whether enrollment success differed significantly according to these factors.


Of 74,139 persons ages 55 to 74 invited by HFHS to participate, 8,250 (11%) ;enrolled. In multivariate analyses, the odds of enrolling were modestly but significantly higher for women, Caucasians, persons in their 60's, and persons living in census blocks with higher median household income. Persons with two or more preexisting morbidities had significantly lower odds of enrolling compared to those with one or no preexisting morbidities.


These data suggest that only a small fraction of persons invited to enroll in long-term RCTs of cancer screening modalities actually do so. In this urban, Midwestern setting, certain characteristics including age, race, and income influenced recruitment success, albeit modestly.

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