Recruitment of veterans from primary care into a physical activity randomized controlled trial: the experience of the VA-STRIDE study

Hawkins, Marquis; Hough, Linda; Berger, Marie; Mor, Maria; Steenkiste, Ann; Gao, Shasha; Stone, Roslyn; Burkitt, Kelly; Marcus, Bess; Ciccolo, Joseph; Kriska, Andrea; Klinvex, Deborah; Sevick, Mary

Background: Much of the existing literature on physical activity (PA) interventions involves physically inactive individuals recruited from community settings rather than clinical practice settings. Recruitment of patients into interventions in clinical practice settings is difficult due to limited time available in the clinic, identification of appropriate personnel to efficiently conduct the process, and time-consuming methods of recruitment. The purpose of this report is to describe the approach used to identify and recruit veterans from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Pittsburgh Healthcare System Primary Care Clinic into a randomized controlled PA study. Methods: A sampling frame of veterans was developed using the VA electronic medical record. During regularly scheduled clinic appointments, primary care providers (PCPs) screened identified patients for safety to engage in moderate-intensity PA and willingness to discuss the study with research staff members. Research staff determined eligibility with a subsequent telephone screening call and scheduled a research study appointment, at which time signed informed consent and baseline measurements were obtained. Results: Of the 3,482 veterans in the sampling frame who were scheduled for a primary care appointment during the study period, 1,990 (57.2%) were seen in the clinic and screened by the PCP; moderate-intensity PA was deemed safe for 1,293 (37.1%), 871 (25.0%) agreed to be contacted for further screening, 334 (9.6%) were eligible for the study, and 232 (6.7%) enrolled. Conclusions: Using a semiautomated screening approach that combined an electronically-derived sampling frame with paper and pencil prescreening by PCPs and research staff, VA-STRIDE was able to recruit 1 in 15 veterans in the sampling frame. Using this approach, a high proportion of potentially eligible veterans were screened by their PCPs. Trial registration: Clinical identifier: NCT00731094.


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Academic Units
Biobehavioral Sciences
Published Here
September 23, 2014


Veterans, Primary care, Physical activity, Overweight, Randomized controlled trial