Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 485–498 | Cite as

Innovative Retention Methods in Longitudinal Research: A Case Study of the Developmental Trends Study

  • Robert B. Cotter
  • Jeffrey D. Burke
  • Rolf Loeber
  • Judith L. Navratil


Minimizing participant attrition is vital to the success of longitudinal research. The Developmental Trends Study (DTS), a longitudinal study of the development of disruptive behavior disorders, has achieved a low attrition rate throughout the study. The development of early retention strategies, managing contact and scheduling history through the use of electronic databases, interviewer persistence, and the emergence of new electronic search methods have contributed to the success of our study. A literature review of retention methodology and practical solutions to maintain participant cooperation is described. A case study of the DTS is presented to inform researchers in longitudinal research on new methods used to maintain high retention rates.

attrition subject retention search methods difficult subjects longitudinal research 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. Cotter
    • 1
  • Jeffrey D. Burke
    • 2
  • Rolf Loeber
    • 3
  • Judith L. Navratil
    • 4
  1. 1.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburgh
  2. 2.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburgh
  3. 3.Psychiatry, Psychology, and Epidemiology, Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburgh
  4. 4.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburgh

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