Citation: Amon K, Paxton K, Klineberg E, Riley L, Hazell P, Skinner R, Hawke C, Steinbeck K. Recruiting a young adolescent rural cohort: costs and lessons learnt. Advances in Pediatric Research 2016;3:1-9



Background: Adolescent recruitment into longitudinal health studies is challenging. The aim of this paper is to report the detailed process and costs of recruiting young adolescents and their families into an intensive longitudinal study of the effects of puberty hormones on health, behaviour and wellbeing in early adolescence, based in regional/rural Australia. 

Methods: Participants were recruited using a saturation strategy of targeted methods (including school visits and community events) and non-targeted recruitment approaches (including print and electronic media advertising, and social media). Direct (face-to-face contact with the public) and indirect (behind-the-scenes preparatory activities) researcher hours were calculated for each of the recruitment strategies. 

Results: The study recruited 342 adolescent participants and a parent/guardian over two years. School and community-based recruitment required 6.2 and 6.0 researcher hours per activity, respectively. Direct researcher hours were primarily spent on delivering presentations and connecting with community members at community events. The majority of indirect hours were spent preparing and assembling information packs for distribution to students and parents during school visits. Non-targeted recruitment strategies using media advertising were the most frequently used methods. Researchers were estimated to have spent less than one hour for each media activity. In 27 months, an estimated $250,000 was spent on recruitment activities and resources. A combination of methods was used to recruit young adolescents and their families into a longitudinal health study. 

Conclusions: The financial costs and researcher time committed to this study highlight the labour-intensive nature of recruitment. The data presented are useful for researchers planning longitudinal studies in

About The Authors


Kate Steinbeck is an endocrinologist and adolescent physician, and Professor and Medical Foundation ...


Philip Hazell is Conjoint Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with the Sydney Medical Schoo...


Rachel Skinner is Clinical Stream Medical Director - Priority Populations and Senior Staff Specialis...