Recommendation 2: Establish a Recruitment Timeline and Identify Recruitment Staff
A second important step is the establishment of a realistic recruitment timeline and a plan for allocating staff to recruitment activities. The timing for beginning the recruitment process is important—it should begin prior to the actual date when data collection will commence; however, the window between the startup of recruitment efforts and the actual beginning of data collection should not be too long or participants may lose interest in the study. It is also helpful, if resources permit, to hire research team members including a recruitment coordinator with personal characteristics (e.g., age, race/ethnicity) similar to the target population. This has been shown to be an effective facilitator of the recruitment process because potential participants from the target community may feel more comfortable divulging personal information to someone from their own community (Arean, Alvidrez, Nery, Estes, & Linkins, 2003; Mendez-Luck et al., 2011). Allowing participants to communicate with study personnel in their preferred language and in a manner in which they feel comfortable fosters trust and enthusiasm and ultimately facilitates study enrollment (Calderon et al., 2006; Hendricks-Ferguson et al., 2012). In addition, research staff from the representative communities may also be more sensitive to participants’ reactions to research and can provide feedback to the investigators about how to improve the recruitment and retention methodologies. In all cases, staff must be well trained and knowledgeable about the study, participants, community, and the importance of recruitment.