Sample Retention in an Urban Context: Exploring Influential Factors Within a Longitudinal Randomized Evaluation

Juliana Karras-Jean Gilles, Jennifer Astuto, Kalina Gjicali, La Rue Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Secondary data analysis was employed to scrutinize factors affecting sample retention in a randomized evaluation of an early childhood intervention. Retention was measured by whether data were collected at 3 points over 2 years. The participants were diverse, immigrant, and U.S.-born families of color from urban, low-income communities. We examined how the initial recruitment and enrollment process, and sample demographics related to retention. Effects that adversely related to retention included recruitment from a public area (e.g., bus stop) versus personally salient locations (e.g., child’s school); assignment to the control group versus the treatment group; longer time lapses in communication between researchers and participants; and living in a less-resourced, low-income neighborhood relative to higher resourced, low-income neighborhoods. Being born outside the United States was positively associated with retention relative to participants born in the U.S. Implications for evaluators and recommendations for evaluation methodology are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-290
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • randomized evaluation
  • sample retention
  • sociocultural variability
  • urban context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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