, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 438-443

Recruiting ethnically diverse general internal medicine patients for a telephone survey on physician-patient communication

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BACKGROUND: Limited evidence exists on the effectiveness of recruitment methods among diverse populations.

OBJECTIVE: Describe response rates by recruitment stage, ethnic-language group, and type of initial contact letter (for African-American and Latino patients).

DESIGN: Tracking of response status by recruitment stage and ethnic-language group and a randomized trial of ethnically tailored initial letters nested within a cross-sectional telephone survey on physicianpatient communication.

PARTICIPANTS: Adult general medicine patients with ≥1 visit during the preceding year, stratified by 4 categories: African-American (N=1,400), English-speaking Latino (N=894), Spanish-speaking Latino (N=965), and non-Latino white (N=1,400).

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Ethnically tailored initial letters referred to shortages of African-American (or Latino) physicians and the need to learn about the experiences of African-American (or Latino) patients communicating with physicians. Of 2,482 patients contacted, eligible, and able to participate (identified eligibles), 69.9% completed the survey. Thirty-nine percent of the sampling frame was unable to be contacted, with losses higher among non-Latino whites (46.5%) and African Americans (44.2%) than among English-speaking (32.3%) and Spanish-speaking Latinos (25.1%). For identified eligible, response rates were highest among Spanish-speaking Latinos (75.2%), lowest for non-Latino whites (66.4%), and intermediate for African Americans (69.7%) and English-speaking Latinos (68.1%). There were no differences in overall response rates between patients receiving ethnically tailore letters (72.2%) and those receiving general letters (70.0%).

CONCLUSIONS: Household contact and individual response rates differed by ethnic-language group, highlighting the improtance of tracking losses by stage and subpopulation. Careful attention to recruitment yielded acceptable response rates among all groups.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.
A poster was presented at the Society of General Internal Medicine 27th annual meeting, Chicago, IL, May 15, 2004.
See editorial by Chin, p. 448.
This research was supported by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality grant R01 HS10599 and the Resource Center for Minority Aging Research program of the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Office of Research on Minority Health, grant P30 AG 15272.