DESIGN: Recruitment for a randomized controlled trial. SETTING: Community-based program offered at 12 locations.
PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling seniors 60 years and older with chronic low back pain of mechanical origin.
METHODS: Passive recruitment strategies included advertisement in local and senior newspapers, in senior e-mail newsletters and listservs, in local community centers and businesses. Active strategies included meeting seniors at health fairs, lectures to the public and organizational meetings, and the help of trusted professionals in the community.
RESULTS: A total of 100 white and 20 African American seniors were recruited. The program seemed to have the most appeal to white, middle-class older adults, educated through high school level. Advertisement failed to attract any participants to the program. Successful strategies included interaction with seniors at health fairs and lectures on health care, especially when the program was endorsed by a trusted community professional.
CONCLUSION: Generating interest in the self-management program required keen communication skills because the idea of "self-management" was met with a myriad of responses, ranging from disinterest to disbelief. Generating interest also required active participation within the communities. Initial contacts had to be established with trusted professionals, whose endorsement enabled the project managers to present the concept of self-management to the seniors. More complex recruitment strategies were required for this study involving the self-management approach to back pain than for studies involving treatment.
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