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Recruitment and Retention of Community-Dwelling, Aging Women in Nursing Studies

DiMattio, Mary Jane Kalafut

Brief Reports

Background Despite recent attention to women’s lack of participation in health research, little nursing literature documents or describes recruitment and retention issues related to an increasingly large segment of the population, aging women who dwell in the community.

Objectives An analysis of a subset of published nursing research was conducted to identify: (a) demographics of samples that included community-dwelling, aging women; (b) recruitment and retention issues; and (c) the frequency and completeness with which each of these areas is reported.

Method An electronic database search was conducted for reports of funded nursing research that included women aged 65 and older that were published in a subset of English-language nursing journals between 1994 and June 1999. Research reports in which community-dwelling women were recruited for participation were selected for analysis (N = 50).

Results Racial composition of the sample was included in 66% of reports; educational and employment status in 68% and 48%, respectively; and marital status in 64%. The majority of participants was White and married. It was impossible to determine the racial and marital status of the remainder of participants because of incomplete or ambiguous reporting. Recruitment and retention issues were addressed in only 23% of relevant reports, but specific recommendations can be derived from these reports to help other researchers.

Conclusion It is imperative for nurse researchers to include more information in research reports about their samples of community-dwelling, aging women and their successes and failures with recruitment and retention. This will help future researchers to study the population and will link nursing research to the larger social context of women’s lives.

Mary Jane Kalafut DiMattio, PhD, RN, is a doctoral candidate, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania; and Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing, University of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Accepted for publication December 1, 2000.

The author thanks Dr. Lorraine Tulman for suggesting the topic for the paper on which this article is based, and Drs. Neville Strumpf and Anne Keane for their support and assistance with the preparation of this article.

Address correspondence to Mary Jane Kalafut DiMattio, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA 18510 (e-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.