Recruiting and retaining first-year college students in online health research: Implementation considerations

K. Guastaferro, A. E. Tanner, K. L. Rulison, A. M. Miller, J. J. Milroy, D. L. Wyrick, L. M. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Decreasing participation in intervention research among college students has implications for the external validity of behavioral intervention research. We describe recruitment and retention strategies used to promote participation in intervention research across a series of four randomized experiments. Method: We report the recruitment and retention rates by school for each experiment and qualitative feedback from students about recommendations for improving research participation. Results: There was considerable variation among schools’ recruitment (4.9% to 64.7%) and retention (12% to 67.8%) rates. Student feedback suggested study timing (e.g., early in the semester), communication strategies (e.g., social media), and incentive structure (e.g., guaranteed incentives) could improve research participation. The highest survey participation rate was observed at the university which mandated students to complete the intervention (but not the survey). Conclusions: Intervention scientists must consider the population and study context to make informed decisions related to recruitment and retention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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