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Recruitment and retention in an adolescent anorexia nervosa treatment trial




To investigate recruitment and retention for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of adolescent anorexia nervosa (AN), as prior studies suggest that these are significant hurdles to completing meaningful RCTs in this population.


Retrospective analyses of recruitment and retention rates were conducted for a multisite RCT of family-based treatment (FBT) versus adolescent-focused therapy (AFT) recruiting adolescents between 12 and 18 years of age with AN.


Adolescent participants were recruited from a variety of both medical and nonmedical sources. Recruitment goals were met in time (October 2004–March 2007). Percent retention rates were high across both treatment types (84% for FBT and 92% for AFT), and these rates did not differ significantly.


These results reveal that recruitment and retention of adolescent patients with AN to RCTs are feasible in contrast to the experience in adult studies. It is likely that characteristics of our clinical programs make recruitment easier than in other settings, e.g., child and adolescent focused, specialized eating disorders program with an emphasis on outpatient treatment, recognized leaders in the field, and a history of clinical excellence with this population. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012; 45:812–815)