Few large-scale epidemiologic studies have enrolled older adults; hence, little is known about the feasibility of recruiting this group for long-term population-based studies. In this article we present the recruitment experience of the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a population-based, longitudinal study of cardiovascular diseases in adults 65 years and older. Participants were sampled from the Health Care Financing Administration's (HCFA) Medicare eligibility lists in four US communities. Letters were mailed to 11,955 sampled individuals. Persons recruited were required to complete an extensive home interview and then a 4-hour in-clinic examination. Excluded were persons who were expected to be able to complete the baseline examination and who were not expected to return for the 3-year follow-up. Some 3654 participants were recruited from those randomly selected from the Medicare sampling frame. In addition, 1547 other age-eligible persons living in the household with the sampled individuals also participated, yielding a total of 5201 participants. Of those who were contacted, 9.6% were ineligible and 34.9% refused participation. Among those eligible, 38.6% refused and 57.3% were enrolled (the remaining did not refuse but were not enrolled before the recruitment ended). Data from a subsample indicate that compared to those who were ineligible or who refused, enrolled participants were younger, more highly educated, more likely to be married, and less likely to report limitations in activity. Compared to those who were eligible but refused, enrolled participants were less likely to have high blood pressure and stroke, and more likely to have quit smoking and to perceive their health status as very good or excellent. The CHS recruitment experience shows that older adults can be successfully recruited in large epidemiologic studies of cardiovascular disease and that HCFA eligibility lists are useful for identifying and recruiting community-dwelling older adults in such studies.
- cardiovascular diseases
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