PROBLEM: In order to understand the risks and protective factors associated with poor health outcomes in adolescent mothers and their children, nurses need to design rigorous longitudinal research. Attrition of subjects can contribute to sampling error. Recruitment and retention efforts need to be optimized.
METHODS: In a 4-year longitudinal study with adolescent mothers and their babies, the design for tracking included frequent phone calls, progressive monetary incentives, gifts, and one phone number of an alternative contact.
FINDINGS: Of the 97 mother–infant dyads recruited, retention was 54% at 6 months and 38% at final data collection. Successful strategies included persistence in making contacts and utilizing alternative contact numbers.
CONCLUSIONS: Retention rates for this study were low. With today's technology, many additional strategies need to be employed to improve retention rates with adolescent mothers.