Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Ouch! Recruitment of Overweight and Obese Adolescent Boys for Qualitative Research

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Ouch! Recruitment of Overweight and Obese Adolescent Boys for Qualitative Research

Article excerpt

Conceptual Background and Article Formation

This article brings forth the partial graduate work of a University of Lethbridge graduate student (ZM) entitled Through Their Voices: Experiences of Overweight and Obese Adolescent Boys. The purpose of this graduate thesis was to privilege the voices and the day-to-day experiences of overweight and obese adolescent boys as such understanding is currently missing from the literature. The research team was committed to gaining a greater understanding of overweight adolescent boys and how their daily experiences had an impact on their health-related quality of life and physical activity behaviours.

The methods for Through Their Voices included person-centered interviewing (Hollan, 2005; Levy & Hollan, 1998) and fieldwork observations (Patton, 2002) to fathom the day-to-day experiences of twenty overweight and obese adolescent males. Twenty participants were to be accrued through purposeful sampling (Patton, 2002). The sampling criteria were four-fold: boys; aged 14-16 years; overweight or obese; and not involved in an obesity treatment program. It is important to note that this study was community-based, meaning the participants were not attending a clinic or undergoing a clinical intervention, nor were they sought to engage in an obesity related treatment program.

Through Their Voices was well supported through funding, the diverse backgrounds of the research team, and an Advisory Committee (clinical, non-clinical and research experts). However, despite this support and expertise, recruiting the proposed sample (N=20) was unsuccessful. In fact, only three participants volunteered. The research team was surprised and disappointed by this sample size outcome; the 'Ouch Factor' occurred, an unexpected shock that occurs while conducting qualitative research on a sensitive topic (Alty & Rodham, 1998). Consequently, fieldwork observations and field notes provoked a new question: What are the complexities of recruiting community-based overweight and obese adolescent boys into non-anonymous, non-intervention qualitative research?

Qualitative research methods, including interviews, can provide new information about a phenomenon of interest, fill gaps in current literature, and support professionals by providing relevant information about a specific segment of the population, including children and youth experiencing health issues (Currie, 2003; Herrman, 2006; Sartain, Clarke, & Heyman, 2000). Therefore, to understand the low recruitment outcome, and to answer the question regarding the complexities of recruiting from this population, the research team analyzed fieldwork notes and conducted additional person-centered interviews with the cohesive sample (Morse, 1995) of overweight adolescent boys (n=3), and key community professionals (n=6). Thus, the purpose of this study was to identify the complexities of recruiting overweight and obese adolescent boys, discuss specific recruitment considerations, and finally offer insight to researchers interested in recruiting overweight adolescent boys for qualitative research. This contribution adds to the current literature about recruitment and fosters the potential for enhanced participation of vulnerable populations within research through better informed recruitment strategies (Sutton, Erlen, Glad, & Siminoff, 2003).

Review of Literature

Adolescent boys face particular health risks and have specific health, social, and developmental needs (World Health Organization, 2000a). Consequently, health promotion, prevention of illness, and healthy social development are important to their overall health and well-being (World Health Organization, 2000a). Listening to the voices of boys is recommended to explore and better understand their worlds (World Health Organization, 2000b) to ensure relevant and appropriate health and social interventions.

The prevalence of overweight and obese populations continues to be a major concern within North America, especially among vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents (Belanger-Ducharme & Tremblay, 2005; Ogden & Carroll, 2010; Ogden, Carroll, Curtin, Lamb, & Flegal, 2010; Shields, 2005). …

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