The influence of social connectedness and self-esteem on participant retention in a bi-ethnic longitudinal study
In prospective studies it is essential that the study sample accurately represents the target population for meaningful inferences to be drawn. Understanding why some individuals do not participate, or fail to continue to participate, in longitudinal studies can provide an empirical basis for the development of effective recruitment and retention strategies to improve response rates. This study examined the influence of social connectedness and self-esteem on long-term retention of participants, using secondary data from the “San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging” (SALSA), a population-based study of Mexican Americans (MAs) and European Americans (EAs) aged over 65 years residing in San Antonio, Texas. We tested the effect of social connectedness, self-esteem and socioeconomic status on participant retention in both ethnic groups. In MAs only, we analyzed whether acculturation and assimilation moderated these associations and/or had a direct effect on participant retention. Low income, low frequency of social contacts and length of recruitment interval were significant predictors of non-completer status. Participants with low levels of social contacts were almost twice as likely as those with high levels of social contacts to be non-completers, even after adjustment for age, sex, ethnic group, education, household income, and recruitment interval (OR = 1.95, 95% CI: 1.26–3.01, p = 0.003). Recruitment interval consistently and strongly predicted non-completer status in all the models tested. Depending on the model, for each year beyond baseline there was a 25–33% greater likelihood of non-completion. The only significant interaction, or moderating, effect observed was between social contacts and cultural values among MAs. Specifically, MAs with both low social contacts and low acculturation on cultural values (i.e., placed high value on preserving Mexican cultural origins) were three and half times more likely to be non-completers compared with MAs in other subgroups comprised of the combination of these variables, even after adjustment for covariates. Long term studies with older and minority participants are challenging for participant retention. Strategies can be designed to enhance retention by paying special attention to participants with low social contacts and, in MAs, participants with both low social contacts and low acculturation on cultural values. Minimizing the time interval between baseline and follow-up recruitment, and maintaining frequent contact with participants during this interval should also be is integral to the study design.
Hu, Shirley Lih-Lan, "The influence of social connectedness and self-esteem on participant retention in a bi-ethnic longitudinal study" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1474834.