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Why families choose not to participate in research: Feedback from non-responders

Authors

  • Rachel Barratt,

    1. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    2. Department of Nutrition, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1st Floor Lanesborough Wing, St Georges Hospital, London
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  • Penny Levickis,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Geraldine Naughton,

    1. Centre of Physical Activity Across the Lifespan, Australian Catholic University, Victoria, Australia
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  • Bibi Gerner,

    1. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    2. University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Kay Gibbons

    1. Department of Nutrition, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: All authors declare that there are no financial or professional relationships which may pose a conflict of interest. All authors were independent from the funder. The funder had no involvement in study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and in writing of the article or influencing the decision to submit the final manuscript for publication.
  • Trial registration: ISRCTN 52511065 (http://www.isrctn.org)

Correspondence: Ms Penny Levickis, Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9345 5900; email: penny.levickis@mcri.edu.au

Abstract

Aim

Subjects who did not respond to an invitation to participate in a community-based randomised controlled trial for childhood obesity in Melbourne, Australia were approached to investigate reasons for non-participation.

Methods

Between January and September 2007, 305 families were sent a brief questionnaire and invited to take part in the current study. Thirty-seven questionnaires were returned and 12 parents agreed to a follow-up interview. Questionnaire data were quantitatively analysed. The interviews were conducted via the telephone and provided detailed qualitative information on non-participation.

Results

Lack of time was cited as a main reason for non-participation. Different aspects of time were discussed including lack of time to dedicate to a topic seen as low priority, overestimated perception of time for study commitments and the inappropriate timing of the request. Other major reasons for non-participation included risk of negative experiences and the impact of the initial contact with the study.

Conclusions

This study illustrates the experiences of potential participants during the recruitment process, their perceptions of study commitments and how their previous experiences impact on their decision to participate in research. These findings provide insight into the decision not to participate in health research and could be used to modify recruitment procedures for future health research as a way of improving the recruitment experience for potential participants as well as enhancing recruitment rates.

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