caring recruitment, decision making, judgment, minority, older adult



  1. Gamboa, Charlene J.
  2. Julion, Wrenetha A.
  3. Fogg, Louis
  4. Bounds, Dawn T.
  5. Sumo, Jen'nea
  6. Barnes, Lisa L.


Background: African Americans (AAs) are underrepresented in health-related research studies. Few studies have investigated how behaviors of study recruiters affect recruitment of older AAs versus non-Latinx Whites (NLWs).


Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore whether caring behaviors influence AA and NLW older adults' decision to participate in hypothetical, high-commitment, health-related research studies and differences in participants' enrollment decisions by race.


Methods: Using a descriptive, cross-sectional study design, guided by Kristen Swanson's middle-range theory of caring, a research-savvy sample of 60 AA and 60 NLW adults (age > 65 years) were randomly assigned one of two written vignettes. The concept of caring behaviors was manipulated and illustrated in a hypothetical recruitment scenario. A participant feedback survey was used to assess (a) participants' perceptions of caring and uncaring behaviors exhibited by the fictitious research recruiter, (b) differences in their willingness to participate based on vignette type, and (c) participants' judgment of the research recruiter as being caring or uncaring. A chi-square test assessed the association among categorical variables (caring behavior and participants' race).


Results: Participants who received the vignette with the high caring recruiter were more than twice as likely to agree to participate in the study than those who received the vignette with the low caring recruiter. AA and NLW participants did not differ in their likelihood to agree to participate. Participants who received the caring vignette and judged the recruiter as caring were 5 times as likely to agree to participate in the high-commitment study than those who received the uncaring vignette (p < .001). Associations did not vary by race.


Discussion: This experimental study of equally recruited older adults from an existing longitudinal study revealed that caring behaviors in recruitment strategies are associated with an increased likelihood of participation in high-commitment research with older adults. The research-savvy AA participants were just as likely to participate in the hypothetical high-commitment research as their NLW peers when the fictional research recruiter was perceived as having caring behaviors. When targeting specific populations, it is essential to employ nuanced recruitment approaches where the study recruiters are attuned to caring behaviors.