Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author’s final published version in JAMA network open, Volume 5, Issue 11, November 2022, Pages e2244040.

The published version is available at Copyright © Darden et al.


Importance: To our knowledge, there are no published randomized clinical trials of recruitment strategies. Rigorously evaluated successful recruitment strategies for children are needed.

Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of 2 recruitment methods for enrolling rural children through primary care clinics to assess whether either or both methods are sufficiently effective for enrolling participants into a clinical trial of a behavioral telehealth intervention for children with overweight or obesity.

Design, setting, and participants: This cluster-randomized clinical trial of 2 recruitment methods was conducted at 4 primary care clinics in 4 separate states. Each clinic used both recruitment methods in random order. Clinic eligibility criteria included at least 40% pediatric patients with Medicaid coverage and at least 100 potential participants. Eligibility criteria for children included a rural home address, age 6 to 11 years, and body mass index at or above the 85th percentile. Recruitment began February 3, 2020, and randomization of participants occurred on August 17, 2020. Data were analyzed from October 3, 2021, to April 21, 2022.

Interventions: Two recruitment methods were assessed: the active method, for which a list of potential participants seen within the past year at each clinic was generated through the electronic health record and consecutively approached by research staff based on visit date to the clinic, and the traditional method, for which recruitment included posters, flyers, social media, and press release. Clinics were randomized to the order in which the 2 methods were implemented in 4-week periods, followed by a 4-week catch-up period using the method found most effective in previous periods.

Main outcomes and measures: For each recruitment method, the number and proportion of randomized children among those who were approached was calculated.

Results: A total of 104 participants were randomized (58 girls [55.8%]; mean age, 9.3 [95% CI, 9.0-9.6] years). Using the active method, 535 child-parent dyads were approached and 99 (18.5% [95% CI, 15.3%-22.1%]) were randomized. Using the traditional method, 23 caregivers expressed interest, and 5 (21.7% [95% CI, 7.5%-43.7%]) were randomized. All sites reached full enrollment using the active method and no sites achieved full enrollment using the traditional method. Mean time to full enrollment was 26.3 (range, 21.0-31.0) days.

Conclusions and relevance: This study supports the use of the active approach with local primary care clinics to recruit children with overweight and obesity from rural communities into clinical trials.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID




Included in

Pediatrics Commons