Case-control studies with stringent matching criteria require large pools of healthy subjects from which to select matched controls. This paper describes a successful method of identifying a large pool of potential control subjects to participate in two molecular epidemiological case-control studies of lung cancer, each enrolling 400 case subjects and 400 control subjects. These studies are not population based, and the study base is not well-defined. Therefore, potential control subjects are being identified and recruited through 20 area clinic sites of a large multispecialty health maintenance organization. Because the research focus is driven by genetic hypotheses and we are controlling for multiple smoking-related variables, representativeness is of lesser concern. To identify potential control subjects, a one-page questionnaire is distributed to patients in the waiting room to assess contact information as well as data relevant to the case-control matching process. An average of 2,228 questionnaires are returned monthly toward a target pool of 40,000; of these, 59% of the respondents fulfill eligibility criteria as a control subject for one of the studies and are not averse to being contacted in the future for the purpose of research. When compared to former smokers and never smokers, current smokers in the control population were least likely to refuse further contact. A collaborative arrangement with a managed care organization offers a feasible mechanism through which researchers can access a large, ethnically diverse population of potential control subjects.

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