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Contemporary options for longitudinal follow-up: Lessons learned from a cohort of urban adolescents


  • Tobler, Amy L.
  • Komro, Kelli A.


This study reports efforts to locate and survey participants in Project Northland Chicago (PNC), a longitudinal, group-randomized trial of an alcohol preventive intervention for racial/ethnic minority, urban, early-adolescents, 3-4 years following the end of the intervention. Data were collected annually among students from 6th-8th grade and then at age 17-18. Tracking procedures were used to maintain contact with participants and data collection consisted of three phases: (1) Internet- and mail-based surveys; (2) in-school survey administration; and (3) courier service delivery. Contact was lost with 11% of this urban cohort from the end of the PNC intervention activities through these longterm follow-up efforts, as indicated by returned locating postcards. Fifty-three percent of the cohort responded to the survey, the majority completing in Phase 1 of our data collection. Additional school-based and courier-delivery efforts increased our response rate by 11.5%. Costs per completed survey were $118 in Phase 1, $166 in Phase 2, and $440 in Phase 3. This study illustrates that it is possible to track and follow-up a high-risk cohort as they progress through adolescence, even with minimal efforts in intervening years. Lessons learned from this study may inform future efforts to track and collect longitudinal data among high-risk populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobler, Amy L. & Komro, Kelli A., 2011. "Contemporary options for longitudinal follow-up: Lessons learned from a cohort of urban adolescents," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 87-96, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:34:y:2011:i:2:p:87-96

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cotter, Robert B. & Burke, Jeffrey D. & Stouthamer-Loeber, Magda & Loeber, Rolf, 2005. "Contacting participants for follow-up: how much effort is required to retain participants in longitudinal studies?," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 15-21.
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    7. Hill, Terrence D. & Angel, Ronald J., 2005. "Neighborhood disorder, psychological distress, and heavy drinking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(5), pages 965-975, September.
    8. Rowland Atkinson, 2004. "The evidence on the impact of gentrification: new lessons for the urban renaissance?," International Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 107-131.
    9. Ribisl, Kurt M. & Walton, Maureen A. & Mowbray, Carol T. & Luke, Douglas A. & Davidson, William S. & Bootsmiller, Bonnie J., 1996. "Minimizing participant attrition in panel studies through the use of effective retention and tracking strategies: Review and recommendations," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-25, February.
    10. Rosston, G.R. & Wimmer, B.S., 2000. "The "State" of Universal Service," Papers 99-018, United Nations World Employment Programme-.
    11. Haggerty, Kevin P. & Fleming, Charles B. & Catalano, Richard F. & Petrie, Renee S. & Rubin, Ronald J. & Grassley, Mary H., 2008. "Ten years later: Locating and interviewing children of drug abusers," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-9, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blakeslee, Jennifer E. & Del Quest, A. & Powers, Jennifer & Powers, Laurie E. & Geenen, Sarah & Nelson, May & Dalton, Lawrence D. & McHugh, Elizabeth, 2013. "Reaching everyone: Promoting the inclusion of youth with disabilities in evaluating foster care outcomes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 1801-1808.
    2. Davis, Erin & Demby, Hilary & Jenner, Lynne Woodward & Gregory, Alethia & Broussard, Marsha, 2016. "Adapting an evidence-based model to retain adolescent study participants in longitudinal research," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 102-111.


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