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Strategies for recruiting adolescents in rural areas in firearm injury research
  1. Elizabeth Weybright1,2,
  2. Ashley Hall3,
  3. Alice M Ellyson2,4,5,
  4. Gary Varrella6,
  5. Margaret R. Kuklinski7,
  6. Emma Gause2,
  7. Julia Schleimer2,8,
  8. Kimberly Dalve2,8,
  9. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar2,4,8
  1. 1 Department of Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
  2. 2 Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  3. 3 Washington State University, Snohomish, Washington, USA
  4. 4 Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  5. 5 Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA
  6. 6 Washington State University, Spokane, Washington, USA
  7. 7 Social Development Research Group, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  8. 8 Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elizabeth Weybright, Department of Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, USA; elizabeth.weybright{at}


Background Participant recruitment is a central aspect of human sciences research. Barriers to participant recruitment can be categorised into participant, recruiter and institutional factors. Firearm injury research poses unique barriers to recruitment. This is especially true for rural adolescents, who are at high risk for firearm-related injury and death, and whose voice is often absent in firearms research. In particular, recruitment strategies targeting adolescents should align with developmental changes occurring during this life stage. Identifying strategies to address recruitment barriers tailored to firearm-related research can help future researchers engage rural adolescents in injury prevention efforts.

Purpose The purpose of the current methodology paper is to outline barriers and provide strategies for recruiting rural adolescents in firearms research informed by the Youth Experiences in Rural Washington: Research on Firearm Safety project, a mixed-methods, community-based participatory research study of 13–18 year-olds residing in rural Washington.

Strategies Recruitment barriers and related strategies were organised by participant-related and recruiter-related/institutional-related factors. While carrying out the study, key considerations or strategies which addressed multiple participant and recruiter/institutional factors, emerged with potential to enhance firearm-related research with rural adolescents more broadly. Key considerations included logistics (ie, scheduling flexibility, adequate and aligned incentives), use of a community-based participatory research approach and accounting for developmental stage.

Conclusion Reducing the burden of firearm injury and death for rural adolescents and developing effective interventions requires understanding and navigating recruitment barriers. Strategies used in the current project can guide future qualitative or mixed methods data collection informing firearm injury prevention.

  • adolescent
  • rural
  • qualitative research

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  • Contributors EW is guarantor for this research. EW obtained funding, wrote analysis plan, and drafted and revised the paper. AH and GV supported analysis plan and drafted and revised the paper. AR-R obtained funding, initiated the project and revised the paper. AME, MK, EG, JS and KD contributed to the analysis plan, interpretation of results, revisions, and review of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.

  • Funding This project was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US Department of Health and Human Services (R01CE003299). The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the US Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.