Social marketing as a framework for recruitment: illustrations from the REACH study.
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OBJECTIVE: Recruitment is often the most challenging aspect of research with older persons. Social marketing--applying marketing techniques to influence the behavior of target audiences to improve their welfare--can help researchers identify factors that influence recruitment. METHODS: Illustrations of social marketing principles are provided from the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health project, a national Alzheimer's caregivers study that targeted ethnic and racial minorities. RESULTS: Social marketing principles--the six Ps of participants, product, price, place, promotion, and partners--provide a theoretical framework for organizing and planning recruitment activities, including developing varying strategies to define the target audience (participants), develop the intervention (product), manage time and trouble (price), target the audience, improve accessibility (place), promote the study, and develop and work with partners. DISCUSSION: Strategies to enhance recruitment are often undertaken without a comprehensive plan. A social marketing plan provides a framework to map out the steps in recruitment that will be needed and to plan for allocations of time, staff, and resources.