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Methods to Optimize Recruitment and Retention to an Exercise Study in Chinese Immigrants

Taylor-Piliae, Ruth E.; Froelicher, Erika Sivarajan

doi: 10.1097/01.NNR.0000263971.46996.14

Background: To counter pervasive disparities in healthcare and guide public health prevention programs, culturally sensitive recruitment and retention strategies for Chinese immigrants participating in health-related research studies are needed.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop and implement recruitment and retention strategies with Chinese immigrants in a Tai Chi exercise study.

Methods: After substantial project planning and incorporating community-based research principles, a multidimensional approach was used to ensure minimal loss to follow-up. Recruitment strategies included partnering with a community-based agency, distributing study information using a multimedia approach, communicating in the native language, and demonstrating cultural sensitivity. Retention strategies included establishing a tracking method during recruitment, providing personalized feedback, maintaining the same location for all aspects of the study, eliminating potential linguistic barriers, providing personal attention and encouragement, monitoring attendance, utilizing a charismatic Tai Chi instructor, respecting Chinese culture, providing appropriate incentives, and maintaining good communication.

Results: Sixty persons showed interest in the study, 52 persons were screened, and 39 persons were enrolled. Recruitment was completed within 3 weeks. An advertisement in the Chinese newspaper was the most fruitful recruitment source, yielding approximately 60% of the study participants. Retention in the study was also very high (97%, n = 38).

Discussion: The successful recruitment and retention of Chinese immigrants in this Tai Chi exercise study are due to a variety of factors on many levels, including the participants, study investigator, and community-based agency.

Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, RN, CNS, PhD, is Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Prevention Research Center, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

Erika Sivarajan Froelicher, RN, MPH, PhD, is Professor, Department of Physiological Nursing, School of Nursing, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Accepted for publication December 3, 2006.

Thank you to all of the study participants and the Tai Chi Instructors (Sifu Bob Carlson; Sifu Richard Poccia, RN; and Sifu John Hurtado) for their enthusiasm and support. Special thanks to the family of the late Dr. Pi-Lu Fei for their generosity, and to Self-Help for the Elderly, especially Helen Yuen and Anita Ho, for help with recruitment and use of the facility to conduct the research project.

Corresponding author: Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, RN, CNS, PhD, Stanford Prevention Research Center, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Hoover Pavilion, MC 5705, 211 Quarry Road, Room N229, Stanford, CA 94305-5705 (e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.