Background: Researchers use multiple approaches to engage and maintain underrepresented populations in research. They often overlook integrated marketing communication (IMC), a useful approach for commercial marketing, for more established health promotion and social marketing techniques. There is limited information on the application of the IMC approach for recruiting and retaining African American study participants. This article explores the IMC approach used to recruit and retain volunteers for a community-based intervention.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study relying on extracted data from the Multi-Theory Model (MTM) of Health Behavior Physical Activity intervention. A brief multiple-choice survey was administered to a sample of African American women (n=74) to assess the effectiveness of applying an IMC approach for recruiting and retaining volunteers for the multi-week program during January - June 2018. The measures were (1) source for study information, (2) preferred method of contact, (3) primary source for health information.
Results: Sixty-nine women listed their doctor as the primary source of health information and five women in the age group 18-34 identified social media (n=3) and websites (n=2). Age is significantly related to the preference of communication tools used to recruit and retain the African American participants. A statistical significance (P=0.025) suggests for women ages 51-69, a combination of radio, church, and word of mouth was more effective for recruitment. The older women preferred telephone calls compared to the women ages 18-50 who relied on texting.
Conclusion: IMC can synergize individual communication elements in a coordinated manner to address niche audiences and develop cost-effective health communications programs that can improve recruitment and retention efforts in minority populations.