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Challenges in collecting clinical samples for research from pregnant women of South Asian origin: evidence from a UK study
  1. Sharmind Neelotpol1,
  2. Alastair W M Hay2,
  3. A Jim Jolly3,
  4. Mike W Woolridge4
  1. 1Department of Pharmacy, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  2. 2Department of Environmental Toxicology, School of Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  3. 3School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  4. 4UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sharmind Neelotpol; sharmind{at}


Objective To recruit South Asian pregnant women, living in the UK, into a clinicoepidemiological study for the collection of lifestyle survey data and antenatal blood and to retain the women for the later collection of cord blood and meconium samples from their babies for biochemical analysis.

Design A longitudinal study recruiting pregnant women of South Asian and Caucasian origin living in the UK.

Setting Recruitment of the participants, collection of clinical samples and survey data took place at the 2 sites within a single UK Northern Hospital Trust.

Participants Pregnant women of South Asian origin (study group, n=98) and of Caucasian origin (comparison group, n=38) living in Leeds, UK.

Results Among the participants approached, 81% agreed to take part in the study while a ‘direct approach’ method was followed. The retention rate of the participants was a remarkable 93.4%. The main challenges in recruiting the ethnic minority participants were their cultural and religious conservativeness, language barrier, lack of interest and feeling of extra ‘stress’ in taking part in research. The chief investigator developed an innovative participant retention method, associated with the women's cultural and religious practices. The method proved useful in retaining the participants for about 5 months and in enabling successful collection of clinical samples from the same mother–baby pairs. The collection of clinical samples and lifestyle data exceeded the calculated sample size required to give the study sufficient power. The numbers of samples obtained were: maternal blood (n=171), cord blood (n=38), meconium (n=176), lifestyle questionnaire data (n=136) and postnatal records (n=136).

Conclusions Recruitment and retention of participants, according to the calculated sample size, ensured sufficient power and success for a clinicoepidemiological study. Results suggest that development of trust and confidence between the participant and the researcher is the key to the success of a clinical and epidemiological study involving ethnic minorities.

  • South Asian, recruitment, retention, ante-natal blood, meconium, clinico-epidemiology.

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