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DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1181757; PMCID: PMC10267303


INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study is to evaluate two recruitment strategies on schools and participant participation rates and representativeness (reach) within a pediatric obesity treatment trial tailored for families who live in rural areas.

METHODS: Recruitment of schools was evaluated based on their progress toward enrolling participants. Recruitment and reach of participants were evaluated using (1) participation rates and (2) representativeness of demographics and weight status of participants compared to eligible participants (who did not consent and enroll) and all students (regardless of eligibility). School recruitment, as well as participant recruitment and reach, were evaluated across recruitment methods comparing opt-in (i.e., caregivers agreed to allow their child to be screened for eligibility) vs. screen-first (i.e., all children screened for eligibility).

RESULTS: Of the 395 schools contacted, 34 schools (8.6%) expressed initial interest; of these, 27 (79%) proceeded to recruit participants, and 18 (53%) ultimately participated in the program. Of schools who initiated recruitment, 75% of schools using the opt-in method and 60% of schools using the screen-first method continued participation and were able to recruit a sufficient number of participants. The average participation rate (number of enrolled individuals divided by those who were eligible) from all 18 schools was 21.6%. This percentage was higher in schools using the screen-first method (average of 29.7%) compared to schools using the opt-in method (13.5%). Study participants were representative of the student population based on sex (female), race (White), and eligibility for free and reduced-price lunch. Study participants had higher body mass index (BMI) metrics (BMI, BMIz, and BMI%) than eligible non-participants.

CONCLUSIONS: Schools using the opt-in recruitment were more likely to enroll at least 5 families and administer the intervention. However, the participation rate was higher in screen-first schools. The overall study sample was representative of the school demographics.

Journal Title

Front Public Health



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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Female; Child; Pediatric Obesity; Body Mass Index; Research Design; Students


RE-AIM evaluation framework; children; dissemination and implementation; implementation science; representativeness; youth


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