Minority recruitment into clinical trials: experimental findings and practical implications.

Posted: Jun 25, 2012
Contemp Clin Trials. 33. 4. 620-3.
KEYWORDS: Women, Minority Groups, Letter, Non-Cancer


Using ethnically targeted, nonpersonalized direct mail letters can impact minority reach and recruitment rates.

Why this item may be useful

This study compared use of direct mail letters that included either an ethnically targeted statement or personalization to recruit minority women to a behavioral weight management trial. The ethnically targeted statement noted ethnic-specific information about health risks of obesity. Personalized letters included recipients' names/addresses in the salutation and a handwritten signature on high-quality letterhead. Of women sent direct mail letters, those sent letters with the ethnically targeted statement were more likely to respond than were women sent letters with the generic statement. Women sent personalized letters were no more likely to respond than were women sent non-personalized letters.


  • Other studies have shown direct mail to be an effective clinical trial recruitment strategy for the general population and more effective than mass media for recruiting minorities.
  • Direct mail can reach different minority groups dispersed across wide geographical areas and reach individuals without going through gatekeepers such as physicians or community organizations.
  • Direct mail can reach many individuals with relatively little staff time and effort.
  • Effective recruitment strategies should focus on recipients—their awareness of the health problem and potential impact on their own health.
  • Of minority women randomized into the trial, 68.9% (n = 62) were recruited by direct mail letters: 75.8% (n = 47) of those were sent a letter and 24.2% (n = 15) were referred by friends/family who were sent a letter. This indicates that in addition to direct mail, recruitment through friends/family is another viable recruitment strategy that should be optimized.