Recruitment of urban African American patients with cancer pain

      There are many reported issues with recruitment of urban African Americans to cancer studies. The population is often characterized as older, low income, with limited education, scarce resources, and distrust of research. It is also commonly assumed that extended families and close-knit faith communities can be called upon to provide support. This poster describes observations made during recruitment for a randomized control, longitudinal intervention study among African Americans with cancer pain and their caregivers, that challenge many of the a priori assumptions. Although few people in our study are highly educated, many are quite knowledgeable about research, and very open to participation. Our population is younger than anticipated and many struggle with an absence of family, church, or community supports. When asked to identify someone as a primary caregiver, many people cannot identify anyone while others name many people superficially involved with their care. Although some of our participants make every effort to attend services when they feel well enough, support from the local church communities has not been widely evident. Many cancer patients in our study are essentially alone. Contacting participants requires additional time and effort beyond that reported in the extant literature. Although most potential participants have phones, contact is often complicated by disconnections and other barriers. Patients with cancer pain are also often going to multiple medical appointments and study visits are not their highest priority. People are sometimes hospitalized for days or weeks with no one available to answer calls. Based on our experience with recruiting a sample to date of n=159 (toward the desired sample of 256) strategies for addressing some of the major recruitment concerns are discussed. We conclude that familiarity with previously-established cultural patterns of a population is necessary, but local and individual assessment and tailored approaches are critical to successful recruitment.