Recruiting subjects for research studies can be challenging. Respondent time and burden may pose challenges when trying to recruit busy professionals as participants. Holding a focus group during a research-oriented conference session is a novel way to address recruitment barriers for such subjects. In this field note, we address recruiting participants by word of mouth and snowball sampling for a focus group study held during a research session about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) coaching at a professional conference. We found that this novel approach yielded experienced participants, with a depth of perspective, who were already primed to think about important issues in the field and had a desire to contribute. Participants commented about the ease and convenience of engaging in a research study during a conference session while they had already set time aside from other professional obligations. This type of recruitment yields a convenience sample with both the benefits and drawbacks of a high degree of self-selection among participants. We found that participants engaged enthusiastically in our focus group study related to the emerging field of ADHD coaching. Study recruitment at a conference may be particularly suited to research on “hot topics” or an emerging field that would easily attract and engage participant interest.


qualitative, focus group, research recruitment, commentary, field notes

Author Bio(s)

Micah Saviet, MSW, LMSW, CEAP received his master’s degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. He is Director of Springer Institute. He is interested in both research and clinical aspects of the mental health system. Additionally, he is particularly drawn to researching and exploring client-centered, behavioral-based strategies aimed at helping individuals with ADHD and others cope more effectively, and even thrive. He is a published author and international presenter. Please direct correspondence to micah@springerinstitute.org.

Elizabeth Ahmann, ScD, RN, PCC, NBC-HWC has a master’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in public health. She is Director of Research at Springer Institute. In addition to a coaching practice focused on clients with ADHD, she is a member of the ADHD Coaches Organization’s Research Committee and is a Professor and Curriculum Manager in the Health and Wellness Coaching Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a published author and international conference presenter. Please direct correspondence to eahmann@muih.edu.

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