Article Title

Predicting, Recruiting and Tracking Enrollment of Young Adults to an Online Intervention to Support Healthy Eating

Publication Date



recruitment, enrollment


Background/Aims: Young adults, known as Generation Y, eat well below the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables and consume high rates of sweetened beverages. With a busy, ever-evolving lifestyle and lifelong exposure to the instant and browsable Internet, recruitment and engagement efforts require accommodating challenges of preference for quick food, quick read, and low attention to snail mail. We describe strategies and monitoring utilized to engage this diverse and understudied population in a two-site, online, randomized intervention trial (MENU GenY) designed to support healthy food choices.

Methods: Recruitment from two geographically diverse sites, metropolitan Detroit, MI, and rural Danville, PA, is ongoing. Automated data were utilized to identify young adult HMO members ages 21–30. Mailing strategy, envelope and invitation letter style were evaluated by focus groups across both sites and consultants in a two-phase process. Team meetings guided collaboration efforts on enrollment strategies, and technical meetings were established and run by project management to allow the programing staff across sites to focus and drive technology-specific developments on the study. Mailing volume, based on sample composition by predicted enrollment rates, was modeled across the 12-month recruitment timeframe. Tracking software was developed with two online applications, an internally built program at Henry Ford Health, Flash Manager V3, and an administrative console at University of Michigan CHCR, using the Django framework, to provide immediate feedback on enrollment rates overall and by site.

Results: An invitation letter was developed with a unique and catchy color study logo along with a color insert and magnet, sent in a business-style envelope, and followed by a second notice letter 10 days following. Young adults responded favorably to the second “reminder” letter, which nearly doubled enrollment rate, with the study on schedule to meet its n=1,624 goal. By comparing prediction to tracking, with consideration of enrollment by site and by gender, we adjusted mailing volume and rates to reach quarterly enrollment goals.

Discussion: Through rigorous planning, collaborative team coordination and guidance by young adult advisors, we addressed challenges and experienced success with enrolling a hard-to-reach young adult population. We will provide enrollment updates and further details.




March 31st, 2015


April 28th, 2015