Strategies for recruiting representative samples of Asian Americans for a population-based case–control study

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Data are limited on effective methods for recruiting persons, especially from ethnically diverse populations, into population-based studies. The goal of this study was to evaluate the variation among and representativeness of controls identified using multiple methods for a population-based case–control study of breast cancer among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) in the San Francisco Bay Area.


We used a unique combination of targeted recruitment strategies, including address-based sampling, community-based methods, and internet-based and media-based approaches for recruiting controls, frequency matched on age and ethnicity to a population-based sample of cases. To characterise the participating controls, we compared the distribution of sociodemographic characteristics and cancer risk factors between recruitment sources using χ2 tests. To ensure that the controls we recruited were representative of the underlying at-risk population, we compared characteristics of the controls, by ethnicity and in aggregate, to data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and adjusted the relative mix of recruitment strategies throughout the study as needed to achieve representativeness.


As expected, controls (n=483) recruited by any single method were not representative. However, when aggregated across methods, controls were largely representative of the underlying source population, as characterised by CHIS, with regard to the characteristics under study, including nativity, education, marital status and body mass index.


A multimode approach using targeted recruitment strategies is an effective and feasible alternative to using a single recruitment method in identifying a representative, diverse control sample for population-based studies.

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