Open Access Open Badges Research article

Exploring recruitment, willingness to participate, and retention of low-SES women in stress and depression prevention

Judith EB van der Waerden15*, Cees Hoefnagels125, Maria WJ Jansen35 and Clemens MH Hosman145

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Promotion, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

2 Trimbos Institute, Netherlands institute for mental health and addiction, Utrecht, the Netherlands

3 Public Health Services South Limburg, Geleen, the Netherlands

4 Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

5 CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maasrticht, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:588  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-588

Published: 5 October 2010



Recruitment, willingness to participate, and retention in interventions are indispensable for successful prevention. This study investigated the effectiveness of different strategies for recruiting and retaining low-SES women in depression prevention, and explored which sociodemographic characteristics and risk status factors within this specific target group are associated with successful recruitment and retention.


The process of recruitment, willingness to participate, and retention was structurally mapped and explored. Differences between women who dropped out and those who adhered to the subsequent stages of the recruitment and retention process were investigated. The potential of several referral strategies was also studied, with specific attention paid to the use of GP databases.


As part of the recruitment process, 12.1% of the target population completed a telephone screening. The most successful referral strategy was the use of patient databases from GPs working in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Older age and more severe complaints were particularly associated with greater willingness to participate and with retention.


Low-SES women can be recruited and retained in public health interventions through tailored strategies. The integration of mental health screening within primary care might help to embed preventive interventions in low-SES communities.