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cost analysis, research interventions, vulnerable populations



  1. Kelly, Patricia J.
  2. Ahmed, Arif
  3. Martinez, Elisabeth
  4. Peralez-Dieckmann, Esther


Background: Little information is available to guide researchers who must estimate the costs associated with obtaining postintervention survey data from research cohorts.


Objective: To estimate the costs of following girls involved in the juvenile justice system who were part of a reproductive health promotion intervention for 6 months; to determine the costs of collecting follow-up data; and to determine how participant characteristics, recruitment sites, and follow-up methods affect costs.


Method: Direct and indirect costs associated with program staff and various support services' time and the costs of incentives for participation were used to calculate the total cost of follow-up for each participant. Associations between the participant and program characteristics and total costs were assessed using bivariate and multivariate tests.


Results: Of the 449 participants, 402 (89.5%) completed 6-month follow-up. Participants who had been or were pregnant, were runaways, had a history of partner violence, or did not use birth control at baseline were less likely to complete follow-up data. An average of 5.8 attempts was made over an average of 2.97 hr to locate each participant. The average cost of follow-up was $101.82 per participant. Locating participants using family members had the smallest impact on cost, whereas working with parole officers had the largest impact on cost.


Discussion: These findings have implications for researchers preparing budgets for interventions that include a follow-up data collection. Greater resources should be allocated and specific strategies should be implemented when research cohorts have large numbers of participants with specific risk behaviors.