The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Innovative Strategies for Successful Recruitment and Retention of Vulnerable Populations in Community-Based Intervention Research: Examples From a Multi-Year Project With Court and CPS-Involved Partner Violence Survivors and Their Children

Friday, January 17, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 002B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Cynthia Fraga Rizo, MSW, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rebecca J. Macy, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dania Ermentrout, MSW, MPH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Phillip H. Redmond, JD, The Duke Endowment
Social work researchers are frequently challenged with recruiting and retaining vulnerable, service-mandated participants into intervention research studies. An example of such a group is female intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors who are mandated by courts or CPS to receive domestic violence services (Miller, 2001; Simmons, Lehmann, & Dia, 2010). The growing attention given to the issue of IPV by CPS workers and the considerable number of IPV survivors arrested for IPV perpetration are both national trends. Therefore, many community-based service organizations are encountering increasing numbers of female IPV survivors mandated to their services. With few exceptions (e.g., Stuart et al., 2006), female IPV survivors who seek services at community-based agencies because of a CPS or court mandates are rarely found in intervention research studies.

It is imperative to learn about the lives and experiences of vulnerable groups mandated to receive services. To do so however, these groups must be recruited and included in research. Moreover, intervention researchers working with vulnerable, mandated groups need to ensure that study protocols are acceptable and ethical for both participants and community partners. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of literature regarding recommended strategies for collecting data from vulnerable individuals mandated to services, especially in the context of community-based, intervention research (Dutton et al., 2003).

An ongoing, community-based research collaboration offered our research team the opportunity to document lessons-learned regarding how to recruit and collect data from IPV survivors mandated to services. The data from our work can help social workers conducting intervention research with similarly vulnerable, mandated groups. For the past five years, our team has been collaborating with two community-based human service agencies and a grantmaker to document and rigorously evaluate a novel psychoeducational therapeutic intervention designed for female IPV survivors mandated by the courts and/or CPS to receive services.

Projects conducted as part of this research include (a) qualitative process evaluation (N=18), (b) mixed-methods pilot study collecting pretest, posttest, and follow-up data (N=73), (c) qualitative study exploring mothers’ perspectives on collecting data on and from their children (N=21), and (d) qualitative study exploring mothers’ substance use (N=22). Data on challenging topics (e.g., IPV victimization/perpetration, substance use, child discipline) were collected throughout these projects. Recruitment and retention rates ranged from 70% to 100% across all projects.

Based on our experiences and findings from this community-based, intervention research, this workshop will provide attendees with frameworks, strategies, and tools to conduct investigations with similarly vulnerable, mandated populations. Key areas to be addressed in this workshop include: (1) promoters and barriers of service and research participation; (2) attention to participants’ mandated, vulnerable statuses; (3) strategies for recruiting and retaining participants in both services and research; (4) strategies for developing and maintaining successful research relationships with community-based service providers. Strategies for garnering community (i.e., clients, service providers, key stakeholders) input into recruitment, data collection, and retention will also be presented. Throughout the workshop, presenters will emphasize the importance of research ethics. Presenters will also use interactive presentation methods to help workshop participants develop their knowledge and skills.

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