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Recruiting African-American older adults for a community-based health promotion intervention: which strategies are effective?



The purpose of this article is to examine the effectiveness of recruitment strategies used to recruit African-American older adults for a senior center-based health promotion trial with a 6-month exercise component.


We compared multiple strategies for recruiting participants from senior center members and other older adults residing in the surrounding predominantly African-American community. The phonathon, direct telephone recruitment by senior center leadership, is compared with traditional approaches.


All recruiting strategies combined yielded a total of 120 participants. Phonathons involving five or six senior center board members in two half-day sessions yielded 40 participants or 33% of all participants. Strategies categorized as printed media yielded 39 participants or 33% of all participants. Strategies categorized as word-of-mouth yielded 31 participants or 26% of all participants. Remaining approaches accounted for an additional 10 participants or 8% of all participants.


Our results support employing a multifaceted recruitment approach and demonstrate the importance of strong linkages between the research team and community leaders in conducting health promotion research in minority communities. An innovative approach, the phonathon, may be a potentially important recruitment strategy.

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