What are successful recruitment and retention strategies for underserved populations? Examining physical activity interventions in primary care and community settings

  • Jennifer K CarrollEmail author
  • Antronette K Yancey
  • Bonnie Spring
  • Colmar Figueroa-Moseley
  • David C Mohr
  • Karen M Mustian
  • Lisa K Sprod
  • Jason Q Purnell
  • Kevin Fiscella


The purposes of this review are to (1) describe recruitment and retention strategies for physical activity interventions focusing on underserved populations and (2) identify successful strategies which show the most promise for “best practices” recommendations to guide future research. The method used was systematic review. Data on recruitment and retention strategies were abstracted and analyzed according to participant characteristics, types of strategies used, and effectiveness using an ecological framework. Thirty-eight studies were identified. Populations included African American (n = 25), Hispanic (n = 8), or Asian (n = 3) groups. Successful recruitment strategies consisted of partnering with respected community stakeholders and organizations, well-trained study staff ethnically, linguistically, and culturally matched to the population of interest, and use of multiple advertising channels. Successful retention strategies included efficient administrative tracking of participants, persistence, skillful teamwork, and demonstrating a positive, caring attitude towards participants. Promising recruitment and retention strategies correspond to all levels of ecological influence: individual, interpersonal, organizational, and societal.


Recruitment Retention Underserved groups Physical activity 



We extend our sincere thanks to Margaret Chretien for devoting her time and effort with the bibliographic searches, and Pamela White for her support with the search strategy as well. Special thanks to Adjuah VanKeken for her work in retrieving and indexing articles and to Vi Luong for her support in designing Fig. 1. We also appreciate the effort of Dawn Case and Bonnie Schwartzbauer for their technical editing and formatting assistance. Finally, thank you to all of the authors whose work is represented in Table 1 for their support and replies to verify information for this paper. Funding for this project was supported by the National Cancer Institute. (Identifying information on grant details and PI is omitted in this manuscript version per journal submission).


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Copyright information

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer K Carroll
    • 1
    Email author
  • Antronette K Yancey
    • 2
  • Bonnie Spring
    • 3
  • Colmar Figueroa-Moseley
    • 4
  • David C Mohr
    • 3
  • Karen M Mustian
    • 5
  • Lisa K Sprod
    • 5
  • Jason Q Purnell
    • 6
  • Kevin Fiscella
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.University of Rochester School of MedicineFamily Medicine Research ProgramsRochesterUSA
  2. 2.School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Davis School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSacramentoUSA
  5. 5.University of Rochester Cancer CenterRochesterUSA
  6. 6.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  7. 7.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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