Recruitment Challenges of a Colorectal Cancer Screening Dissemination Study

Linda Larkey, Laura A. Szalacha, Julie Bucho-Gonzalez, Usha Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Dissemination strategies to reach underserved and minority populations to promote screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) are key to reducing disparities. We conducted a study to examine a tailored messaging approach to navigate individuals from communities (i.e., lower income, less access to care, and underscreened) to clinics to receive CRC screening. We encountered several political, demographic, and secular trend issues that required reconsideration and redesign of implementation strategies. Objectives Through study implementation from 2012 to 2017, changes in medical reimbursement and immigration policies - at the state level and later at the national level - affected healthcare delivery systems that had initially committed to supporting the study and our recruitment methods. Although our selected zip codes and sites had previously yielded high rates of CRC screening nonadherence, within a few years, these sites showed substantially higher screening adherence rates - yielding limited numbers of eligible participants. In addition, state immigration policy trends created mistrust and fear, leading to lower participation rates than anticipated. This report documents and provides valuable insights on how we and the community network developed creative strategies to overcome these challenges. Methods New relationships with community partners were extended to tap advisory board input to meet the challenges. Criteria for clinic participation widened from originally selected Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to various nonprofit, hybrid, and privately insured reimbursement types. Recruitment site options were creatively redefined to reach community participants where they live, work, and receive services. Results Strategies that engage community members in identifying alternative healthcare delivery structures and that link recruitment efforts to community-based service organizations were found to be critical to recapturing community trust in the face of unfavorable political environments. Widening the type of clinic partners from FQHCs to stand-alone nonprofits and private clinics and identifying unusual types of recruitment sites provided alternative solutions for successful study implementation. Discussion In prevention-based studies that face unplanned system and political barriers to recruitment, embedding the study in the community may aid in reestablishing trust levels to improve engagement and recruitment of clinic partners and eligible participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E8-E15
JournalNursing research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • colorectal cancer screening
  • community advisory board
  • healthcare access
  • immigration policy
  • minority recruitment
  • patient navigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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