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Preliminary Analysis of Recruitment Methods of the Herbal Heart Study: A NHLBI-Funded Cohort of Young Adults who Consume Cannabis for Non-Medical Reasons

Tomas Panqueva Baena
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Bria-Necole A. Diggs1, Amrit Baral1, Shay P. Hagan1, Jaya Batyra1, Waheeda Deen1, Denise C. Vidot1
1University of Miami

The prevalence of cannabis use has increased among adults 18-to-35-year-olds in the United States in the past 5 years according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Despite the increase of use, there is a dearth in scientific research of cannabis consumers beyond cross-sectional studies. Among the few cannabis cohort studies published, there is a lack of sociodemographic diversity and published reports on best practices to recruit diverse cannabis consumers to have more representative results to improve health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to review recruitment methods employed to create South Florida’s first NHLBI-funded cohort of young adult cannabis consumers and non-consumers.

An analysis of recruitment methods and metrics was conducted by the recruitment team within the Herbal Heart Study to identify challenges to recruitment in effort to mitigate. Pivots in recruitment methods and an analysis of strategies employed was conducted by the team using quantitative and qualitative weekly reporting metrics developed for the study.
Recruitment of the first 50 participants in the Herbal Heart Study cohort was conducted. There were three key themes found when reviewing recruitment for cannabis consumers: 1) challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns; 2) challenges with the use of E-Recruitment as a viable tool; and 3) challenges with in-person recruitment at cannabis events in the community. Creative relationship building with community stakeholders was one of the most impactful pivots to mitigate challenges faced by the team. Staff belonging to the age-range being recruited was another impactful pivot identified upon review of recruitment methods and metrics.
A multi-dimensional approach in recruitment methods proved to be most successful in recruiting the first 50 participants of a NHLBI-funded cohort of young adult cannabis consumers and non-consumers. Challenges included barriers to technology access, competing demands, and in-person recruitment event alignment in eligibility criteria. Future studies should consider the above when creating recruitment strategies for cohort studies of cannabis consumers.

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