Recommendation 6: Build Trust With the Community/Target Population

Advertisement of a study is an essential aspect of the recruitment process. Techniques such as posters, flyers, brochures, public service announcements, and radio scripts are the most common methods used. As noted, online advertisement is also becoming popular. An important task of the CABs is to review these materials and make sure that message is culturally appropriate and congruent with how the target population identifies and perceives the nature and goals of the study. For example, “depression” is a stigmatizing term among many Hispanics (Jimenez et al., 2013); “feeling blue,” a common description of depression relevant to African Americans (Gitlin et al., 2013), bears no meaning when translated into Spanish. In this instance, a CAB could help researchers to avoid stigmatizing terms and provide a description of the study purpose and protocol in a manner that is understandable and nonthreatening.

Prior studies have reported that face-to-face contact is the most effective way to build trust and recruit the targeted populations (Arean et al., 2003; Gonzalez, Gardner, & Murasko, 2007; Greaney, Lees, Nigg, Saunders, & Clark, 2006). Community events (e.g., health fairs, county festivals) are appropriate settings for effectively introducing information about the study This allows researchers to interact with attendees in a face-to-face situation and shed the “ivory tower” reputation of academia. In addition, this is an opportunity for researchers to overcome the stigma associated with potentially sensitive topics. For example, researchers involved in an intervention trial that is evaluating a cognitive-training study for persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) could offer memory screens alongside blood pressure checks and diabetes screens at a health fair. Paired alongside these less stigmatizing health screens, the memory screens can be used as a trust-building launch for education about dementia as well as an opportunity to introduce more specific information about study participation.

Communication among study personnel is also an essential component of any recruitment and retention plan that will help to sustain successful recruitment in clinical research studies. Regularly scheduled meetings or conference calls for project staff provide an opportunity to discuss and monitor recruitment rates. This will also help foster camaraderie within the team and motivate team members to meet projected recruitment goals and gain from the experiences of other project staff (Hendricks-Ferguson et al., 2012).

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