Barriers and facilitators to recruitment of underrepresented research participants: Perspectives of clinical research coordinators

Marie E. Heffernan*, Leo Barrera, Zecilly R. Guzman, Emily Golbeck, Aneta M. Jedraszko, P. Toddie Hays, Keith A. Herzog, Richard T. D'Aquila, Michael G. Ison, Susanna A. McColley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Insufficient recruitment of groups underrepresented in medical research threatens the generalizability of research findings and compounds inequity in research and medicine. In the present study, we examined barriers and facilitators to recruitment of underrepresented research participants from the perspective of clinical research coordinators (CRCs). Methods: CRCs from one adult and one pediatric academic medical centers completed an online survey in April-May 2022. Survey topics included: participant language and translations, cultural competency training, incentives for research participation, study location, and participant research literacy. CRCs also reported their success in recruiting individuals from various backgrounds and completed an implicit bias measure. Results: Surveys were completed by 220 CRCs. CRCs indicated that recruitment is improved by having translated study materials, providing incentives to compensate participants, and reducing the number of in-person study visits. Most CRCs had completed some form of cultural competency training, but most also felt that the training either had no effect or made them feel less confident in approaching prospective participants from backgrounds different than their own. In general, CRCs reported having greater success in recruiting prospective participants from groups that are not underrepresented in research. Results of the implicit bias measure did not indicate that bias was associated with intentions to approach a prospective participant. Conclusions: CRCs identified several strategies to improve recruitment of underrepresented research participants, and CRC insights aligned with insights from research participants in previous work. Further research is needed to understand the impact of cultural competency training on recruitment of underrepresented research participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere193
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 18 2023


  • Research recruitment
  • clinical research coordinators
  • clinical trials
  • research equity
  • research participation
  • special populations
  • underrepresented groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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