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Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2011;32(4):214-9. doi: 10.3109/01612840.2010.544841.

Engaging adolescent mothers in a longitudinal mental health intervention study: challenges and lessons learned.

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  • 1Case Western Reserve University, Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Little is known about recruiting and retaining adolescent mothers in research studies. Investigators who study adolescent mothers have been guided by trial and error, clinical experience, qualitative inquiry, literature of special populations, or the advice of stakeholders. This paper describes the challenges and lessons learned in engaging adolescent mothers in a longitudinal community-based mental health intervention study. Audio-recorded data that describes the circumstances of five adolescent mothers lost to attrition were extracted from a longitudinal mental health intervention study. Adolescent mothers described a chaotic home environment with multiple demands, family conflict, health issues, limited access to a telephone, transportation, financial, and social support. Utilizing a multidisciplinary community advisory group, dedicated telephone, and free electronic media may assist in overcoming modifiable barriers to recruitment and retention of adolescent mothers. Exploring a waiver of informed consent and the engagement of mothers of adolescents in research are indicated.

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