Challenges to be overcome using population-based sampling methods to recruit veterans for a study of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury

Peter J. Bayley, Jennifer Y. Kong, Drew A. Helmer, Aaron Schneiderman, Lauren A. Roselli, Stephanie M. Rosse, Jordan A. Jackson, Janet Baldwin, Linda Isaac, Michael Nolasco, Marc R. Blackman, Matthew J. Reinhard, John Wesson Ashford, Julie C. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Many investigators are interested in recruiting veterans from recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Researchers pursuing such studies may experience problems in recruiting sufficient numbers unless effective strategies are used. Currently, there is very little information on recruitment strategies for individuals with TBI and/or PTSD. It is known that groups of patients with medical conditions may be less likely to volunteer for clinical research. This study investigated the feasibility of recruiting veterans returning from recent military conflicts - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) - using a population-based sampling method. Methods. Individuals were sampled from a previous epidemiological study. Three study sites focused on recruiting survey respondents (n = 445) who lived within a 60 mile radius of one of the sites. Results: Overall, the successful recruitment of veterans using a population-based sampling method was dependent on the ability to contact potential participants following mass mailing. Study enrollment of participants with probable TBI and/or PTSD had a recruitment yield (enrolled/total identified) of 5.4%. We were able to contact 146 individuals, representing a contact rate of 33%. Sixty-six of the individuals contacted were screened. The major reasons for not screening included a stated lack of interest in the study (n = 37), a failure to answer screening calls after initial contact (n = 30), and an unwillingness or inability to travel to a study site (n = 10). Based on the phone screening, 36 veterans were eligible for the study. Twenty-four veterans were enrolled, (recruitment yield = 5.4%) and twelve were not enrolled for a variety of reasons. Conclusions: Our experience with a population-based sampling method for recruitment of recent combat veterans illustrates the challenges encountered, particularly contacting and screening potential participants. The screening and enrollment data will help guide recruitment for future studies using population-based methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalBMC medical research methodology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 8 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • MIND study
  • PTSD
  • Recruitment methods
  • Recruitment yields
  • TBI
  • Veteran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Informatics


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