The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Recruitment and Retention in Longitudinal Studies On IPV and SA

Thursday, January 17, 2013: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Executive Center 2A (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice
Melanie Lowe Hoffman, MPA, Rutgers University, Sara-Beth Plummer, PhD, Walden University and Sheila McMahon, MDiv, Rutgers University
Conducting longitudinal studies on sensitive issues such as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Sexual Violence (SV) clearly present a number of challenges for researchers. The literature has documented that recruitment and retention of participants can be difficult due to reasons that include the obligation to provide physical and emotional safety to all participants; maintaining contact despite participant’s often changing locations; and establishing rapport, confidentiality and trust (see Ullman, 2011). Researchers in the field of violence have argued that longitudinal research conducted on these topics that is both ethical and produces meaningful research results must include carefully planned tracking methods that are modified to meet the needs of the population (Logan et al, 2008; Ullman, 2011). In this workshop, the presenters will share critical components of successful recruitment and retention of participants in research studies involving IPV and SV.  The presenters will draw on the literature as well as share their experiences with conducting two  large-scale longitudinal research studies involving IPV and SV.

The first study, funded by the Allstate Foundation, was conducted with a total of 121 survivors of IPV across 10 different states. This study employed a non experimental, longitudinal design to evaluate the impact of the Moving Ahead Through Money Management curriculum. The study involved three interviews over a one year period. Several strategies were used to minimize attrition including conducting initial interviews in person;  assigning the same interviewer with research participant throughout the study and  asking for multiple forms of contact information (home phone, cell phone, three family or friends to contact).  Our overall response rate was 77% (N=121).  

The second study employed an experimental, longitudinal design to test the effectiveness of a bystander intervention program to prevent sexual violence with college students.  The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and involved six points of data collection over an 18-month period. A total of 4,054 students were initially recruited, and then a total of 2,004 students were assigned to either the experimental or control groups.  After randomly assigning students to either the experimental or control groups, the retention rate for the first post-test was 68% and over 80% for the remaining surveys.  A number of innovative retention methods were used including incentives as well as communication through technology (ie Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and emails).

 Using these case studies the presenters will achieve the following objectives:

  1. Review major ethical concerns and solutions for working with survivors of IPV and SV in longitudinal research
  2. Discuss how to build relationships with research participants and other key stakeholders;


  1. Share marketing and communication strategies designed to recruit and retain participants;
  2. Discuss how to design an incentive plan that is appropriate to the target population

The workshop will include a combination of presentation and group discussion using a co-learning methodology in hopes of uncovering ways to ethically and rigorously promote research relevant to social work scientists studying IPV and SV.

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