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Table 4 Overview of cohort retention toolkita

From: Participant retention practices in longitudinal clinical research studies with high retention rates

Type of retention tool Detailed explanation
Communication templates and manuals Example telephone scripts with accompanying operation manuals and templates for written communication (e.g. reminder letters, occasion cards, newsletters). Examples of tools include:
• Letter templates include: thank you, visit reminder
• Card templates: thank you, get well, sympathy
• Guideline for different scenarios a staff may encounter during phone contact
Retention strategies from systematic review Searchable database of 618 retention strategies that were abstracted from an updated systematic review [4] on cohort retention methodology. These strategies are categorized into 12 themes.
Themes include “special tracking methods,” “non-financial incentives,” and “visit characteristics.”
Participant contact information form A template for collecting detailed contact information from participants and others who can be contacted if participant cannot be reached. Details include preferred name(s), email address.
Locating participants Includes a template to log each contact attempt made to participants or their proxies as well as a checklist of search tools for difficult to find research participants. Examples of tools include:
• Ideas and tools on how to locate participants
• Template for detailed documentation of any contact attempts, which is useful for internal communication among research staff but also to track what worked and did not work in the last follow-up visit
Follow-up protocols Examples of protocols to facilitate in-person and/or phone visits, and procedures outlining escalating efforts to reach participants. These tools synthesize and provide template for cohesively implementing retention activities. Examples of tools include:
• Tools and techniques to facilitate an in-person visit
• Methods and tips to overcome delayed visits or frequent cancellations
Staff training Includes a template of documenting training and quality assurance steps in administering surveys. For example, factors to consider including pacing when interviewer-administered or how the interviewer responds if responder has question or is confused with a question.
  1. aFurther details of cohort retention tools made freely available via a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute-funded grant (R24HL111895) are accessible at this website: