Recruiting rural and underserved participants in behavioral health interventions is challenging. Community-based recruitment approaches are effective, but they are not always feasible in multisite, diverse community interventions. This study evaluates the feasibility of a rapid, multisite approach that uses rural clinic site coordinators to recruit study participants. The approach allows for rural recruitment in areas where researchers may not have developed long-term collaborative relationships.
Adults with diabetes were recruited from rural Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) clinics. Recruitment feasibility was assessed by analyzing field notes by the project manager and health coaches, and 8 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with clinic site coordinators and champions, followed by thematic analysis of field notes and interviews.
Forty-seven rural sites were contacted to obtain the 6 sites that participated in the study. On average, sites took 14 days to commit to study participation. One hundred and twenty-one participants were acquired from letters mailed to eligible participants and, in some sites, by follow-up phone calls from site coordinators. Facilitators and deterrents affecting study recruitment fell into 4 broad categories—study design, site, site coordinator, and participant factors.
The rapid multi-site approach led to quick and efficient recruitment of clinic sites and participants. Recruitment success was achieved in some, but not all, rural sites. The study highlights the opportunities and challenges of recruiting rural clinics and rural, underserved participants in multisite research. Suggestions are provided for improving recruitment for future interventions.
Keywords: diabetes, health coaching, recruitment, rural, telehealth