PURPOSE: To describe the strategies-based on the social triad concept of a partnership of researchers, school personnel and community-employed to recruit low-income, minority parent/caregivers of kindergarten children into a school-based tooth decay prevention trial in the United States.
METHODS: The study site was an urban school district with five elementary schools. Recruitment was carried out once each year for three years. Recruitment involved strategies at the school district, school, classroom, and student-parent level. A coalition of researchers, school personnel and community individuals was established for communication and recruitment. Outreach workers from the community were hired to promote, recruit, and disseminate oral health information. Study promotion included both print materials (logos, flyers, pictorial story boards) and presentations at school and community events.
RESULTS: The School District Superintendent and administrators approved the study, and all five school principals and kindergarten teachers participated. All children within the classrooms were eligible: the overall participation rate of was 86% (580/672). Community outreach workers actively facilitated the recruitment and participants were recruited at open house for parent-teacher meeting (37% of all participants), sending letters and consent forms home (31%), at a prearranged convenient time during drop off and pick up of the child at their respective schools (30%), curriculum nights and health fairs (2%).
CONCLUSION: Utilizing the social triad concept led to success in planning and carrying out the recruitment of predominantly minority school children with high participation rates.