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Telephone Outreach Enhances Recruitment of Underrepresented Seriously Ill Patients for an Advance Care Planning Pragmatic Trial.

Chau AJ, Sudore RL, Hays RD, Tseng CH, Walling AM, Rahimi M, Gibbs L, Patel K, Sanz Vidorreta FJ, Wenger NS. Telephone Outreach Enhances Recruitment of Underrepresented Seriously Ill Patients for an Advance Care Planning Pragmatic Trial. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Jun 1; 38(8):1848-1853.

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BACKGROUND: Patients experiencing systemic patterns of disadvantage, such as racial/ethnic minorities and those with limited English proficiency, are underrepresented in research. This is particularly true for large pragmatic trials of potentially sensitive research topics, such as advance care planning (ACP). It is unclear how phone outreach may affect research participation by underrepresented individuals. OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of phone outreach, in addition to standard mail survey recruitment, in a population-based ACP pragmatic trial at three academic health systems in California. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study PATIENTS: Primary care patients with serious illness were mailed a survey in their preferred language. Patients who did not initially respond by mail received up to three reminder phone calls with the option of survey completion by phone. MAIN MEASURES: Effect of phone outreach on survey response rate associated with respondent demographic characteristics (e.g., Social Vulnerability Index [SVI], range 0 (low) to 1 (high)). RESULTS: Across the health systems, 5998 seriously ill patients were mailed surveys. We obtained completed surveys from 1215 patients (20% response rate); 787 (65%) responded after mail alone and 428 (35%) participated only after phone outreach. Patients recruited after phone outreach compared to mail alone were more socially vulnerable (SVI 0.41 v 0.35, P < 0.001), were more likely to report being a racial/ethnic minority (35% v 28%, P = 0.006), and non-English speaking (16% v 10%, P = 0.005). Age and gender did not differ significantly. The inclusion of phone outreach resulted in a sample that better represented the baseline population than mail alone in racial/ethnic minority (28% mail alone, 30% including phone outreach, 36% baseline population), non-English language preference (10%, 12%, 15%, respectively), and SVI (0.35, 0.37, 0.38, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Phone outreach for a population-based survey in a pragmatic trial concerning a potentially sensitive topic significantly enhanced recruitment of underrepresented seriously ill patients.

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