Recruiting African Immigrant Women for Community-Based Cancer Prevention Studies: Lessons Learned from the AfroPap Study

  • Joycelyn CudjoeEmail author
  • Ruth-Alma Turkson-Ocran
  • Angelica K. Ezeigwe
  • Yvonne Commodore-Mensah
  • Manka Nkimbeng
  • Hae-Ra Han


Recruitment in research can be challenging, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities and immigrants. There remains a dearth of research identifying the health and sociocultural needs of these populations related to recruitment. To describe our experiences and lessons learned in recruiting African immigrant (AI) women for the AfroPap study, a community-based study examining correlates of cervical cancer screening behaviors. We developed several recruitment strategies in collaboration with key informants and considered published recruitment methods proven effective in immigrant populations. We also evaluated the various recruitment strategies using recruitment records and study team meeting logs. We enrolled 167 AI women in the AfroPap study. We used the following recruitment strategies: (1) mobilizing African churches; (2) utilizing word of mouth through family and friends; (3) maximizing research team’s cultural competence and gender concordance; (4) promoting altruism through health education; (5) ensuring confidentiality through the consenting and data collection processes; and (6) providing options for data collection. Online recruitment via WhatsApp was an effective recruitment strategy because it built on existing information sharing norms within the community. Fear of confidentiality breaches and time constraints were the most common barriers to recruitment. We were successful in recruiting a “hard-to-reach” immigrant population in a study to understand the correlates of cervical cancer screening behaviors among AI women by using a variety of recruitment strategies. For future research involving African immigrants, using the internet and social media to recruit participants is a promising strategy to consider.


Recruitment strategies African immigrants Cervical cancer Pap testing 



This research is supported by a National Cancer Institute predoctoral training Grant (F31CA221096). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors. We would like to express our appreciation to The African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association who provided insight that greatly assisted this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joycelyn Cudjoe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ruth-Alma Turkson-Ocran
    • 1
  • Angelica K. Ezeigwe
    • 2
  • Yvonne Commodore-Mensah
    • 1
    • 3
  • Manka Nkimbeng
    • 1
  • Hae-Ra Han
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of NursingThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Center for Cardiovascular and Chronic CareThe Johns Hopkins School of NursingBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Center for Community Innovation and ScholarshipThe Johns Hopkins School of NursingBaltimoreUSA

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