As discussed throughout this chapter, enrolling and maintaining participants in behavioral intervention trials are a challenging, yet critical, aspect of the research process. There is not one single recommended approach for successfully recruiting participants. Successful recruitment and retention of participants depend upon careful planning and overcoming barriers related to fear and mistrust of science, stigma, communication, aspects of the study design, and available resources (e.g., staff and budget). Each culture and community has its own unique barriers and concerns. The challenge for investigators is to develop recruitment methods that address the issues specific to a target population and community, rather than to try to develop a one-size-fits-all approach. However, CBPR models suggest that a framework can be a helpful approach as it helps foster partnerships with the community, trust in the research process, and an understanding of the needs and characteristics of the target population. In order for recruitment and retention to be successful, the research team must work in concert with the community to fit recruitment and retention strategies to the needs and characteristics of the community. Each project requires thoughtful consideration of the study environment, research tasks, community resources, budgetary constraints, and any special needs or obstacles within the target population.
As the public’s investment in behavioral intervention research continues to increase, it is imperative that clinical research be conducted with participant samples that are large enough to reliably test the research hypotheses and diverse enough to reflect a representative sample and thus ensure the validity and generalizability of the findings.