Participation in Research Studies: Factors Associated with Failing to Meet Minority Recruitment Goals

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Annals of Epidemology

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To determine the recruitment goals that investigators set for racial/ethnic minorities and the factors associated with failure to meet those goals.


Four hundred forty principal investigators (PIs) conducting clinical research funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 2001 completed a mailed survey providing their minority recruitment goals and enrollment data for their most recent NHLBI-funded study.


Ninety-two percent of PIs set goals for African Americans, 68% for Hispanics, 55% for Asian Americans, 35% for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, and 23% of PIs set recruitment goals for American Indians/Native Alaskans. Among those PIs who did set minority recruitment goals, the mean goal for the recruitment of African Americans was 31%, 16% for Hispanics, and 9% for Asian Americans. Twenty-seven percent of PIs failed to meet their recruitment goals for African Americans, 23% for Asian Americans, and 23% for Hispanics. After adjusting for multiple investigator and trial characteristics, the type of study (odds ratio [OR] 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2, 3.4 for observational vs. phase III trial) completion of study enrollment (OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.2, 3.4), and PI identification of a larger number of major barriers to participation (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.1, 3.0) were all associated with failure to meet recruitment goals for African Americans. However, no factors were consistently associated with failure to meet recruitment goals across different racial/ethnic groups.


Investigators often do not set recruitment goals for some racial/ethnic groups. Factors associated with failure to meet recruitment goals vary in the recruitment of different minority groups.