Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Melinda L. Irwin


There is limited data on effective methods for recruiting ethnically and culturally diverse populations into population-based studies. For case-control studies in particular, appropriate selection and successful recruitment of representative control subjects remain a challenge. In a population-based case-control study assessing novel risk factors for breast cancer among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs), we utilized a unique combination of population-based sampling, community-based recruitment methods, and internet- and media-based approaches for recruiting controls who were frequency matched to cases identified through a population-based cancer registry in the San Francisco Bay Area. We characterized the populations drawn from each recruitment source by comparing controls on a number of socio-demographic and medical characteristics across recruitment methods. We also compared characteristics of controls, in aggregate, to the overall source population to assess representativeness. Participants from each recruitment source differed with respect to many characteristics. For example, internet-based controls were more educated, had higher income, and were more likely to be born in the US, while controls recruited from community health centers were less educated, had lower income, and had limited English speaking skills. The combined control sample (N=483), however, appeared to be largely representative of the underlying source population with regards to most of the socio-demographic and medical factors under study, including nativity, education, marital status, and body mass index. Our simultaneous use of multiple alternative recruitment methods was found to be a feasible and cost-effective approach for recruiting a representative control series of diverse AANHPIs for population-based studies. Larger studies and further assessment of multiple strategies for recruitment of representative samples in various populations is needed.


This is an Open Access Thesis.