Facilitators and barriers to pediatric clinical trial recruitment and retention in rural and community settings: A scoping review of the literature

Sara E. Watson, Paul Smith, Jessica Snowden, Vida Vaughn, Lesley Cottrell, Christi A. Madden, Alberta S. Kong, Russell McCulloh, Crystal Stack Lim, Megan Bledsoe, Karen Kowal, Mary McNally, Lisa Knight, Kelly Cowan, Elizabeth Yakes Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Children in rural settings are under-represented in clinical trials, potentially contributing to rural health disparities. We performed a scoping review describing available literature on barriers and facilitators impacting participation in pediatric clinical trials in rural and community-based (nonclinical) settings. Articles identified via PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, and Web of Science were independently double-screened at title/abstract and full-text levels to identify articles meeting eligibility criteria. Included articles reported on recruitment or retention activities for US-based pediatric clinical studies conducted in rural or community-based settings and were published in English through January 2021. Twenty-seven articles describing 31 studies met inclusion criteria. Most articles reported on at least one study conducted in an urban or suburban or unspecified community setting (n = 23 articles; 85%); fewer (n = 10; 37%) reported on studies that spanned urban and rural settings or were set in rural areas. More studies discussed recruitment facilitators (n = 25 studies; 81%) and barriers (n = 19; 61%) versus retention facilitators (n = 15; 48%) and barriers (n = 8; 26%). Descriptions of recruitment and retention barriers and facilitators were primarily experiential or subjective. Recruitment and retention facilitators were similar across settings and included contacts/reminders, community engagement, and relationship-building, consideration of participant logistics, and incentives. Inadequate staff and resources were commonly cited recruitment and retention barriers. Few studies have rigorously examined optimal ways to recruit and retain rural participants in pediatric clinical trials. To expand the evidence base, future studies examining recruitment and retention strategies should systematically assess and report rurality and objectively compare relative impact of different strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-853
Number of pages16
JournalClinical and Translational Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


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