Recommendations for recruiting and retaining adolescent girls in chronic exercise (training) research studies

Extensive challenges are often encountered when recruiting participants to chronic exercise (training) studies. High participant burden during chronic exercise training programmes can result in low uptake to and/or poor compliance with the study. The aim of this qualitative study was to identify factors affecting adolescent girls’ recruitment and adherence to chronic exercise training research studies. Twenty-six adolescent girls (aged 12 to 15 years) participated in one of five focus groups discussing recruitment and retention to exercise physiology research involving a chronic exercise training programme. A thematic analysis was used to analyse the data and eight final themes were inductively identified. Seven evidence-based practical recommendations are suggested to improve the recruitment and retention of participants for prospective, chronic exercise training studies. Successful recruitment requires: (i) the defining of exercise-related terms; (ii) appropriate choice of recruitment material; and (iii) an understanding of participant motivations. Retention strategies include: (iv) regular monitoring of participant motives; and (v) small groups which foster peer and researcher support. Finally, (vi) friendship and ability groups were favoured in addition to (vii) a variety of activities to promote adherence to an exercise training programme.