, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 203-218

Retention of Low Income Mothers in a Parenting Intervention Study

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Women with inadequate prenatal care were recruited to a multi-component parenting intervention study. Because it was anticipated that this high-risk population might present challenges to retention, a variety of strategies were employed to maintain their participation in the study. This report reviews the results of these retention efforts and compares the population that completed the study versus those that terminated prior to study completion. Two hundred and eighty-six women were randomized to an intervention or control group. Careful tracking of the mothers, offering incentives for completing various study activities and providing a culturally competent staff were among the strategies employed to maintain participation. Comparison was made of those mothers terminating before study completion versus those retained, and of those terminating early in the study period versus later. Despite retention efforts, attrition at a level of 41% occurred. A few characteristics of mothers terminating early from the study were significant including older maternal age, a larger number of children, and incidence of no prenatal care. Despite comprehensive tracking procedures, some mothers were lost to follow up after change of residence. Other reasons for attrition included child outplacement and refusal of services or data collection procedures.