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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB: Recruitment Strategies and Challenges – Lessons Learned From A Coal Ash and Children’s Health Study

The purpose of this paper is to describe the approaches and recruitment strategies of a study focused on the impact of coal fly ash on neurobehavioral performance among children living in proximity to coal-burning power plants. Since September 2015, 265 participants have been enrolled in the study using a combination of recruitment approaches. Several approaches were employed to recruit the number of needed participants, including “shoe leather” or door‐to‐door recruitment, placement of flyers and brochures in public spaces, mailings to targeted addresses, media announcements, and local government outreach.

A team of researchers collaborated on this study, including Dr. Kristina Zierold, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

When power plants burn coal, a by‐product, referred to commonly as “coal ash,” is generated from the combustion process. Coal ash is composed of multiple constituents including fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, and flue gas desulfurization waste. Children are more at risk from the effects of fly ash compared to adults because they are not fully developed.

The recruitment challenges encountered have been overcome by a continuous re‐evaluation of the challenges inherent within each recruitment strategy and finding solutions to those challenges. Activities were modified accordingly to address the situations presented at the time. Researcher flexibility in adapting to new strategies is vital in facilitating recruitment efforts, and the recruitment of participants in the study remains a dynamic and evolving process.

Full article.

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