Studying physician-adolescent patient communication in community-based practices: recruitment challenges and solutions.
BACKGROUND: Practice-based studies are needed to assess how physicians communicate health messages about weight to overweight/obese adolescent patients, but successful recruitment to such studies is challenging. This paper describes challenges, solutions, and lessons learned to recruit physicians and adolescents to the Teen Communicating Health Analyzing Talk (CHAT) study, a randomized controlled trial of a communication skills intervention for primary care physicians to enhance communication about weight with overweight/obese adolescents. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A "peer-to-peer" approach was used to recruit physicians, including the use of "clinic champions" who liaised between study leaders and physicians. Consistent rapport and cooperative working relationships with physicians and clinic staff were developed and maintained. Adolescent clinic files were reviewed (HIPAA waiver) to assess eligibility. Parents could elect to opt-out for their children. To encourage enrollment, confidentiality of audio recordings was emphasized, and financial incentives were offered to all participants. RESULTS: We recruited 49 physicians and audio-recorded 391 of their overweight/obese adolescents' visits. Recruitment challenges included 1) physician reticence to participate; 2) variability in clinic operating procedures; 3) variability in adolescent accrual rates; 4) clinic open access scheduling; and 5) establishing communication with parents and adolescents. Key solutions included the use of a "clinic champion" to help recruit physicians, pro-active, consistent communication with clinic staff, and adapting calling times to reach parents and adolescents. CONCLUSION: Recruiting physicians and adolescents to audio-recorded, practice-based health communication studies can be successful. Anticipated challenges to recruiting can be met with advanced planning; however, optimal solutions to challenges evolve as recruitment progresses.
Bodner, ME; Bilheimer, A; Gao, X; Lyna, P; Alexander, SC; Dolor, RJ; Østbye, T; Bravender, T; Tulsky, JA; Graves, S; Irons, A; Pollak, KI
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