Recruitment and Retention Strategies for a Community-Based Weight Management Study for Multi-Ethnic Elementary School Children and Their Parents


Correspondence to:

Diane C. Berry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, Campus Box 7460, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460. E-mail:


This article describes successful recruitment and retention strategies for a community-based weight management study in two school districts in North Carolina. Recruitment and retention on both district and school levels and child and parent levels are discussed. A total of 358 children and 358 parents from eight schools in rural North Carolina participated in a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of a nutrition and exercise education, coping skills training, and exercise intervention. Recruitment and retention at the district and school level included meeting with superintendents and receiving a proper introduction to school principals and consistently clear communication throughout the study. At the school level, relationships were developed with the principal and other key personnel to keep lines of communication open during the study. Recruitment and retention strategies at the child and parent level included allowing adequate time for questions during consent and assent and providing a free nutrition and exercise program, a light meal, homework assistance, child care for other children who came to the program, and transportation vouchers if needed. Successful recruitment and retention strategies at the district and school levels and child and parent levels are important for conducting longitudinal community-based studies.