Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe strategies for recruiting participants into an intervention study that focused on improving problem-solving skills in caregivers of children with mental health problems.
Background: Caregivers of children with mental health problems report feeling physically and psychologically overwhelmed and have high rates of depression because of the demands of caregiving. Research on the needs of these caregivers and interventions to ameliorate their stress is needed. However, recruiting this population can be particularly difficult because of the stigma of mental illness. Available literature on recruitment of caregivers of persons with physical illness cannot be transferred to caregivers of children with mental health problems because of the different caregiving situations. There is a need to identify effective recruitment strategies to reduce cost and answer research questions. Clinical nurse specialists have the skills to facilitate the recruitment of research participants. We revised and expanded health system referrals, community outreach, and recruiting advertisement (ads). When these strategies did not increase recruitment, radio ads were used. The Andersen’s Behavioral Model of Health Services Utilization was selected as a guiding framework.
Outcome: Radio ads were the most effective strategy for recruiting caregivers of children with mental health problems for this study.
Conclusion: Recruitment was ultimately successful because we were flexible and made decisions consistent with the Andersen’s Behavioral Model of Health Services Utilization.
Implications: Clinical nurse specialists who study this population of caregivers should really consider the use of radio ads and systematically track which recruitment strategies lead to the greatest number of participants screened, eligible, and enrolled into studies.