Demographic and operational factors predicting study completion in a multisite case-control study of preschool children
Bradley, C., Browne, E. N., Alexander, A., Collins, J., Dahm, J., DiGuiseppi, C., Levy, S., Moody, E., Schieve, L., Windham, G., Young, L., & Daniels, J. (2018). Demographic and operational factors predicting study completion in a multisite case-control study of preschool children. American Journal of Epidemiology. https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwx262
Participant attrition can limit inferences drawn from study results and inflate research costs. We examined factors associated with completion of the Study to Explore Early Development (2007–2011), a multiple-component, case-control study of risk factors for autism spectrum disorder in preschoolers, conducted in California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Participants (n = 3,769) were asked to complete phone interviews, questionnaires, an in-person evaluation, and biologic sampling. We examined whether participant demographic and administrative factors predicted completion using mixed-effects logistic regression models. Completion of individual key study components was generally 70% or higher. However, 58% of families completed all per-protocol data elements (defined a priori as key study components). Per-protocol completion differed according to mother’s age, race, educational level, driving distance to clinic, number of contact attempts to enroll, and number of telephone numbers provided (all P < 0.05). Case status was not associated with completion, despite additional data collection for case-confirmation. Analysis of a subset that completed an early interview revealed no differences in completion by household factors of income, primary language spoken, number of adults, or number of children with chronic conditions. Differences in completion by race and education were notable and need to be carefully considered in developing future recruitment and completion strategies.