Best Practices for Engaging Pregnant and Postpartum Women at Risk of Substance Use in Longitudinal Research Studies: a Qualitative Examination of Participant Preferences. Academic Article uri icon


  • There are significant barriers in engaging pregnant and postpartum women that are considered high-risk (e.g., those experiencing substance use and/or substance use disorders (SUD)) into longitudinal research studies. To improve recruitment and retention of this population in studies spanning from the prenatal period to middle childhood, it is imperative to determine ways to improve key research engagement factors. The current manuscript uses a qualitative approach to determine important factors related to recruiting, enrolling, and retaining high-risk pregnant and postpartum women. The current sample included 41 high-risk women who participated in focus groups or individual interviews. All interviews were analyzed to identify broad themes related to engaging high-risk pregnant and parenting women in a 10-year longitudinal research project. Themes were organized into key engagement factors related to the following: (1) recruitment strategies, (2) enrollment, and (3) retention of high-risk pregnant and parenting women in longitudinal research studies. Results indicated recruitment strategies related to ideal recruitment locations, material, and who should share research study information with high-risk participants. Related to enrollment, key areas disclosed focused on enrollment decision-making, factors that create interest in joining a research project, and barriers to joining a longitudinal research study. With regard to retention, themes focused on supports needed to stay in research, barriers to staying in research, and best ways to stay in contact with high-risk participants. Overall, the current qualitative data provide preliminary data that enhance the understanding of a continuum of factors that impact engagement of high-risk pregnant and postpartum women in longitudinal research with current results indicating the need to prioritize recruitment, enrollment, and retention strategies in order to effectively engage vulnerable populations in research.© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.

publication date

  • October 2020