Special considerations for recruiting in research settings

In their discussion on recruiting older adults for research, McNeely and Clements (1994) note that participation in research is highest for younger populations and declines as people age. Recruitment and retention for research can be especially difficult for older adults in CCRCs. One strategy is to avoid the word "research" because of the association of the word with abuses in the past before regulations were put into place to protect human subjects who participated in research. We tried to minimize presenting the training as a research project during recruitment while emphasizing the training as a positive activity that was beneficial to their

Example of a recruitment flyer linked with an entertainment session

Figure 6.3 Example of a recruitment flyer linked with an entertainment session.

well-being. Although we avoided the word "research" in our general recruitment sessions and materials, the overall goals and purpose of the project were clearly stated in the consent documents to ensure that the residents understood that it was a research project and they were agreeing to participate.

For researchers, informed consent is something needed in almost all research involving human subjects, particularly if it is funded by a government agency or foundation. If the training is not part of a research project, informed consent documents may not be needed. An informed consent document gives research participants all necessary information for the study they are about to enter. It informs them of information that is asked of them as participants and provides details of any possible risks to participating in the research.

One issue researchers might encounter is the ability to make sure that the document is understood by the participant. There can be underlying cognitive or other issues that result in the participant not being able to completely understand the full document. Though this type of research is likely to cause no harm, ICTs can make this population more susceptible to predation than others. When providing participants with the informed consent document, it is often good to go over it section-by-section and offer time after each section for questions and explanations. Reading the document to the individual is not enough. Time and care must be taken to ensure he or she understands each section. Often, returning another day after going over the document in-depth is a good idea. Although participants may choose not to do another review of the materials on a later day, it made them feel more comfortable to have this option.

One unique issue, specific to ICT training programs, is the issue of online security. As older adults learn to use ICTs, it is very important to remember to teach them basic safety measures for online information as well. Scams are often targeted at this age group, and it is the duty of the researchers to inform the participants to the best of their ability. All of this should be included in the informed consent document, and the participants should be made aware of the possibilities (and the training should include information about how to minimize risks).

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