Participant retention in a longitudinal national telephone survey of African American men and women

Cheryl L. Holt, Daisy Le, Joe Calvanelli, Jin Huang, Eddie M. Clark, David L. Roth, Beverly Williams, Emily Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this article is to describe participant demographic factors related to retention, and to report on retention strategies in a national study of African Americans re-contacted 2.5 years after an initial baseline telephone interview. Design & Setting: The Religion and Health in African Americans (RHIAA) study was originally developed as a cross-sectional telephone survey to examine relationships between religious involvement and health-related factors in a national sample of African Americans. The cohort was re-contacted on average of 2.5 years later for a follow-up interview. Participants: RHIAA participants were 2,803 African American men (1,202) and women (1,601). Interventions: RHIAA used retention strategies consistent with recommendations from Hunt and White.1 Participants also received a lay summary of project findings. Main outcome measures: Retention at the follow-up interview. Results: Retention rates ranged from 39%- 41%. Retained participants tended to be older and female. In age- and sex-adjusted analyses, retained participants were more educated, single, and in better health status than those not retained. There was no difference in religious involvement in adjusted analyses. Conclusions: Although overall retention rates are lower than comparable longitudinal studies, RHIAA was not originally designed as a longitudinal study and so lacked a number of structures associated with long-term studies. However, this project illustrates the feasibility of conducting lengthy cold call telephone interviews with an African American population and helps to identify some participant factors related to retention and study strategies that may aid in retention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • African American
  • Longitudinal
  • Retention
  • Survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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