Background: Young women of color bear a disproportionate burden of STDs, yet can be a challenging population to recruit and retain in long-term STD clinical trials. The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) had relatively little experience performing STD studies with this population in 2008 when it began participating in the BRAVO multisite randomized clinical trial of treatment of asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis.
Methods: Sexually active women ages 18-25 were recruited from six U.S. cities for the BRAVO clinical trial. The SF study team conducted focus groups with young women to get feedback on recruitment locations and their view about participating in a STD clinical trial. Recruitment methods included conducting health education workshops in the community, partnering with the public housing authority to send study fliers to 8,000 residences, and hiring employees with experience working with young women of color. To retain participants, staff sent reminder, thank you and birthday cards, increased the incentive after completing the 4-month follow-up visit, and linked participants to community services. The Retention Rate (rr) was defined as the number of active and completed participants divided by the total number of participants as of October 2013. The statistical analysis used was the two-sample test of proportion, z-test.
Results: As of October 2013, 1351 women enrolled at all six study sites. Of these, 490 (36%) women enrolled at SFDPH (rr = 83%), which was above the average site enrollment (225) and overall rr (74%). Of the SF participants, 298 (60.8%) were African American with no difference in rr between African American and White women (83% vs. 85%, p = 0.69).
Conclusions: In San Francisco, a combination of culturally tailored recruitment and retention methods contributed to successful recruitment and retention of young women of color in an STD clinical trial. Future analysis of the relative importance of each strategy is warranted.