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Recruitment of a multi‐site randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise for older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment: The EXERT trial

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Effective strategies to recruit older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) into nonpharmacological intervention trials are lacking.


Recruitment for EXERT, a multisite randomized controlled 18-month trial examining the effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive trajectory in adults with amnestic MCI, involved a diverse portfolio of strategies to enroll 296 participants.


Recruitment occurred September 2016 through March 2020 and was initially slow. After mass mailings of 490,323 age- and geo-targeted infographic postcards and brochures, recruitment rates increased substantially, peaking at 16 randomizations/month in early 2020. Mass mailings accounted for 52% of randomized participants, whereas 25% were recruited from memory clinic rosters, electronic health records, and national and local registries. Other sources included news broadcasts, public service announcements (PSA), local advertising, and community presentations.


Age- and geo-targeted mass mailing of infographic materials was the most effective approach in recruiting older adults with amnestic MCI into an 18-month exercise trial.

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