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An Analysis of the Ecological Theory of Research
Participation Applied to a Sample of Young
Adult Males

By: Lisa M. Soler, RN and Adriana Ramirez | Mentor: Dr. Michael J. Rovito

Introduction

Participant enrollment does not guarantee completion of a study; therefore, researchers must be keenly aware of the methodological concerns that attrition introduces to their studies. Reasons for attrition may vary based on the nature of the research study and criteria (inclusion/ exclusion) as defined by the principle investigator; however, most, if not all, longitudinal studies using human subjects experience some degree of attrition.

The degree of participant loss depends on multiple factors, including demographic variables, personalities, temperaments, and other personal characteristics. Marcellus (2004) suggests that attrition rates range anywhere from 5% to 70%, with concern typically arising when a rate is 20% or greater. Further, researchers may underreport attrition. Amico (2009) states that less than a quarter of studies provide proper data and description of participant attrition. Marcellus challenges the notion of unavoidable attrition by stating that researchers can take measures to limit attrition. She offers the Ecological Theory of Research Participation (ETRP) with selective sampling methodologies to limit, and possibly avoid, attrition.

This study employs the ETRP through a conducted original longitudinal study on testicular self-examination (TSE) performance. Our goals are to discuss the observed attrition in the TSE study, to examine causal factors, and to describe our attempts to remedy the issue through a retrospective lens of the ETRP. Model effectiveness will be discussed and evaluated. Lastly, recommendations will be given on the application of the ETRP for future behavioral studies using college-age males.

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