Strategies for retaining study participants in behavioral intervention trials: Retention experiences of the NIH behavior change consortium
Failing to retain an adequate number of study participants in behavioral intervention trials poses a threat to interpretation of study results and its external validity. This qualitative investigation describes the retention strategies promoted by the recruitment and retention committee of the Behavior Change Consortium, a group of 15 university-based sites funded by the National Institutes of Health to implement studies targeted toward disease prevention through behavior change. During biannual meetings, focus groups were conducted with all sites to determine barriers encountered in retaining study participants and strategies employed to address these barriers. All of the retention strategies reported were combined into 8 thematic retention categories. Those categories perceived to be most effective for retaining study participants were summarized and consistencies noted among site populations across the life course (e.g., older adults, adults, children, and adolescents). Further, possible discrepancies between site populations of varying health statuses are discussed, and an ecological framework is proposed for use in future investigations on retention.