Optimized probability sampling of study sites to improve generalizability in a multisite intervention trial

Jennifer L. Kraschnewski, Thomas C. Keyserling, Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, Ziya Gizlice, Beverly A. Garcia, Larry F. Johnston, Alison Gustafson, Lindsay Petrovic, Russell E. Glasgow, Carmen D. Samuel-Hodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction Studies of type 2 translation, the adaption of evidence-based interventions to real-world settings, should include representative study sites and staff to improve external validity. Sites for such studies are, however, often selected by convenience sampling, which limits generalizability. We used an optimized probability sampling protocol to select an unbiased, representative sample of study sites to prepare for a randomized trial of a weight loss intervention. Methods: We invited North Carolina health departments within 200 miles of the research center to participate (N = 81). Of the 43 health departments that were eligible, 30 were interested in participating. To select a representative and feasible sample of 6 health departments that met inclusion criteria, we generated all combinations of 6 from the 30 health departments that were eligible and interested. From the subset of combinations that met inclusion criteria, we selected 1 at random. Results: Of 593,775 possible combinations of 6 counties, 15,177 (3%) met inclusion criteria. Sites in the selected subset were similar to all eligible sites in terms of health department characteristics and county demographics. Conclusion Optimized probability sampling improved generalizability by ensuring an unbiased and representative sample of study sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA10
JournalPreventing chronic disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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