Mogoba P, Gomba Y, Brittain K, Phillips TK, Zerbe A, Myer L, Abrams EJ.
BMC Res Notes. 2019 Jul 26;12(1):461. doi: 10.1186/s13104-019-4509-4.
Recruitment and retention present major challenges to longitudinal research in maternal and child health, yet there are few insights into optimal strategies that can be employed in low-resource settings. Following prior participation in a longitudinal study following women living with HIV through pregnancy and breastfeeding in Cape Town, women were re-contacted at least 18 months after the last study contact and were invited to attend an additional follow-up visit. We describe lessons learnt and offer recommendations for a multiphase recruitment approach.
Using telephone calls, home visits, clinic tracing and Facebook/WhatsApp messages, we located 387 of the 463 eligible women and successfully enrolled 353 (91% of those contacted). Phone calls were the most successful strategy, yielding 67% of enrolments. Over half of the women had changed their contact information since participation in the previous study. We recommend that researchers collect multiple contact details and use several recruitment strategies in parallel from the start of a study. Participants in longitudinal studies may require frequent contact to update contact information, particularly in settings where mobility is common.