Recruiting a representative sample in adherence research-The MALT multisite prospective cohort study experience.
Medication adherence is an important determinant of transplant outcomes. Attempts to investigate adherence are frequently undermined by selection bias: It is very hard to recruit and retain non-adherent patients in research efforts. This manuscript presents recruitment strategies and results from the MALT (Medication Adherence in children who had a Liver Transplant) multisite prospective cohort study. MALT sites recruited 400 pediatric liver transplant patients who agreed to be followed for 2 years. The primary purpose was to determine whether a marker of adherence, the Medication Level Variability Index (MLVI), predicts rejection outcomes. The present manuscript describes methods used in MALT to ensure that a representative sample was recruited, and presents detailed recruitment results. MALT sites were able to recruit a nationally representative sample, as determined by a comparison between the MALT cohort and a national sample of transplant recipients. Strategies that helped ensure that the sample was representative included monitoring of the outcome measure in comparison with a national sample, drastically limiting patient burden, and specific recruitment methods. We discuss the importance of a representative sample in adherence research and recommend that future efforts to study adherence pay special attention to sample characteristics.