Holly Logan, iN Touch Research Assistant, San Francisco State University
Before we started recruitment and enrollment for iN Touch, I had imagined it would be a straightforward process. I would meet a candidate, describe the project, schedule a visit and enroll her in the study in a timely manner. I figured that once I turned the new study participant over to the health coach, my job as a recruiter would be complete.
Boy was I wrong. I did not realize then how much the experience would impact me. Because we are enrolling youth, we must get parental consent before a participant joins the study. Then, we meet with each participant to complete the study intake questionnaire and measurements. This means that the process often requires multiple phone calls and visits. I have come to know these individuals better than I had anticipated and have learned a lot about their lives.
One individual, Yolanda*, has cancelled three enrollment appointments so far. At first, I was annoyed. But then I realized that she has to work many shifts each week, and is often called in to work at a moment’s notice. Even though Yolanda has expressed a desire to participate in our study, she has little control over many of the pressures in her life.
Her story has made we wonder how it is that two people, or even youths who are the same age, can live such different lives. How do I find a balance between detachment and empathy if a participant chooses to open up about a challenging personal situation? I have found that recruitment can be difficult, emotional and rewarding all at the same time, which makes it important to learn how to deal with different issues that may come up. Each day has been a learning process for our whole research team. The discussions we have as a team have been crucial to making sure we all get the support we need from our colleagues. iN Touch is changing in an important way not only the lives of the teens and young adults who participate in the study, but also those of us working on the study.
*Yolanda is not the participant’s real name.