Recruitment methods and yield rates for a multisite clinical trial exploring risk reduction for Alzheimer's disease (rrAD)

Amanda N. Szabo-Reed, Tristyn Hall, Eric D. Vidoni, Angela Van Sciver, Monica Sewell, Jeffrey M. Burns, C. Munro Cullum, William P. Gahan, Linda S. Hynan, Diana R. Kerwin, Heidi Rossetti, Ann M. Stowe, Wanpen Vongpatanasin, David C. Zhu, Rong Zhang, Jeffrey N. Keller, Ellen F. Binder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: The risk reduction for Alzheimer's disease (rrAD) trial was a multisite clinical trial to assess exercise and intensive vascular pharmacological treatment on cognitive function in community-dwelling older adults at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. METHODS: Eligibility, consent, and randomization rates across different referral sources were compared. Informal interviews conducted with each site's project team were conducted upon study completion. RESULTS: Initially, 3290 individuals were screened, of whom 28% were eligible to consent, 805 consented to participate (87.2% of those eligible), and 513 (36.3% of those consented) were randomized. Emails sent from study site listservs/databases yielded the highest amount (20.9%) of screened individuals. Professional referrals from physicians yielded the greatest percentage of consented individuals (57.1%). Referrals from non-professional contacts (ie, friends, family; 75%) and mail/phone contact from a site (73.8%) had the highest yield of randomization. DISCUSSION: Professional referrals or email from listservs/registries were most effective for enrolling participants. The greatest yield of eligible/randomized participants came from non-professional and mail/phone contacts. Future trials should consider special efforts targeting these recruitment approaches. Highlights: Clinical trial recruitment is commonly cited as a significant barrier to advancing our understanding of cognitive health interventions. The most cited referral source was email, followed by interviews/editorials on the radio, television, local newspapers, newsletters, or magazine articles. The referral method that brought in the largest number of contacts was email but did not result in the greatest yield of consents or eligible participants. The sources that yielded the greatest likelihood of consent were professional referrals (ie, physician), social media, and mail/phone contact from study site. The greatest yield of eligible/randomized participants came from non-professional contacts and mail/phone contact from a site. Findings suggest that sites may need to focus on more selective referral sources, such as using contact mailing and phone lists, rather than more widely viewed recruitment sources, such as social media or TV/radio advertisements.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12422
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants R01 AG49749, R24 AG063724, and KL2TR002367. NCT Registration: NCT0291366

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Alzheimer's Association.


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • brain structure
  • cognition
  • exercise
  • recruitment
  • reduction of vascular risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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