Recruiting South Asians to a lifestyle intervention trial: experiences and lessons from PODOSA (Prevention of Diabetes & Obesity in South Asians)

Anne Douglas, Raj Bhopal, Ruby Bhopal, John Forbes, Jason M.R. Gill, Julia Lawton, John McKnight, Gordon Murray, Naveed Sattar, Anu Sharma, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Sunita Wallia, Sarah Wild, Aziz Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the growing emphasis on the inclusion of ethnic minority patients in research, there is little published on the recruitment of these populations especially to randomised, community based, lifestyle intervention trials in the UK.

We share our experience of recruitment to screening in the PODOSA (Prevention of Diabetes and Obesity in South Asians) trial, which screened 1319 recruits (target 1800) for trial eligibility. A multi-pronged recruitment approach was used. Enrolment via the National Health Service included direct referrals from health care professionals and written invitations via general practices. Recruitment within the community was carried out by both the research team and through our partnerships with local South Asian groups and organisations. Participants were encouraged to refer friends and family throughout the recruitment period.

Health care professionals referred only 55 potential participants. The response to written invitations via general practitioners was 5.2%, lower than reported in other general populations. Community orientated, personal approaches for recruitment were comparatively effective yielding 1728 referrals (82%) to the screening stage.

The PODOSA experience shows that a community orientated, personal approach for recruiting South Asian ethnic minority populations can be successful in a trial setting. We recommend that consideration is given to cover recruitment costs associated with community engagement and other personalised approaches. Researchers should consider prioritising approaches that minimise interference with professionals' work and, particularly in the current economic climate, keep costs to a minimum. The lessons learned in PODOSA should contribute to future community based trials in South Asians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number220
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Humans
  • Intervention Studies
  • Life Style
  • Obesity
  • Patient Selection
  • Research Design


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