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Games Health J. 2018 Feb;7(1):16-23. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2017.0049.

Participant Outcomes from Methods of Recruitment for Videogame Research.

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Department of Pediatrics, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center , Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.



The most productive methods of recruitment for a videogame for health (G4H) trial are not known. Success or failure of recruitment methods has been reported for a variety of clinical trials, but few specifically for G4H trials. This study's goal was to recruit 444 overweight or obese (body mass index percentile between the 84.5th-99.4th percentiles) children between the ages of 10-12 years. The article reports the results of different methods of participant recruitment.


Participants had to agree to three fasting blood samples (baseline, immediately after, and 2 months later); be willing to wear an accelerometer for 7 days at each assessment; read and speak English fluently (because the games were in English); have no history of any condition that would affect what he/she could eat or how much physical activity he/she could get; and have an eligible home computer purchased in the last 5 years with high-speed internet. Hardware criteria reflected the types of computers upon which Diab-Nano could be effectively played. Recruitment was conducted over a 35-month period and included electronic media, print advertising, community recruitment, and an internal volunteer list. Respondents were guided to a web-based screening questionnaire that asked for source of hearing about the study.


Although diverse recruitment methods were used, slow recruitment resulted in obtaining only 45% of the recruitment goal (nā€‰=ā€‰199). Electronic media (e.g., radio, television, and internet), which reached millions of targeted parents, resulted in only 76 respondents, of whom 13 became participants; print media (e.g., magazine, newsletter/newspaper, and mail), which also reached large numbers of parents, resulted in 192 respondents, of whom 19 became participants; community recruitment (e.g., school, friend or family, doctors office, flyer, work, community program) resulted in 162 respondents, of whom 38 became participants; and the internal volunteer list resulted in 413 respondents, of whom 128 became participants.


Inclusionary and exclusionary criteria and restricted access by gatekeepers could be deterrents to successful recruitment. The documented payoff of alternative comprehensive methods of recruitment should benefit other investigations in optimally allocating their recruitment resources.


Electronic media; Print advertising; Recruitment methods; Videogame research

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