Lessons learnt on recruitment and fieldwork from a pilot European human biomonitoring survey

Ulrike Fiddicke*, Kerstin Becker, Gerda Schwedler, Margarete Seiwert, Reinhard Joas, Anke Joas, Pierre Biot, Dominique Aerts, Ludwine Casteleyn, Birgit Dumez, Argelia Castaño, Marta Esteban, Jürgen Angerer, Holger M. Koch, Greet Schoeters, Elly Den Hond, Ovnair Sepai, Karen Exley, Lisbeth E. Knudsen, Milena HorvatLouis Bloemen, Andromachi Katsonouri, Adamos Hadjipanayis, Milena Cerna, Andrea Krsková, Janne Fangel Jensen, Jeanette K.S. Nielsen, Peter Rudnai, Szilvia Közepésy, Arno C. Gutleb, Marc E. Fischer, Danuta Ligocka, Joanna Kamińska, M. Fátima Reis, Sónia Namorado, Ioana Rodica Lupsa, Anca E. Gurzau, Katarína Halzlová, Darja Mazej, Janja Snoj Tratnik, Teresa C. Rivas, Silvia Gómez, Marika Berglund, Kristin Larsson, Andrea Lehmann, Pierre Crettaz, Marie Christine Dewolf, Damien Burns, Anne Kellegher, Marike Kolossa-Gehring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Within the European Environment and Health Action Plan an initiative to establish a coherent human biomonitoring approach in Europe was started. The project COPHES (COnsortium to Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale) developed recommendations for a harmonized conduct of a human biomonitoring (HBM) survey which came into action as the pilot study DEMOCOPHES (DEMOnstration of a study to COordinate and Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale). Seventeen European countries conducted a survey with harmonized instruments for, inter alia, recruitment, fieldwork and sampling, in autumn/winter 2011/2012. Based on the countries' experiences of conducting the pilot study, following lessons learnt were compiled: the harmonized fieldwork instruments (basic questionnaire, urine and hair sampling) turned out to be very valuable for future HBM surveys on the European scale. A school approach was favoured by most of the countries to recruit school-aged children according to the established guidelines and country specific experiences. To avoid a low participation rate, intensive communication with the involved institutions and possible participants proved to be necessary. The communication material should also include information on exclusion criteria and offered incentives. Telephone contact to the participants the day before fieldwork during the survey can prevent the forgetting of appointments and first morning urine samples. To achieve comparable results on the European scale, training of interviewers in all issues of recruitment, fieldwork and sampling through information material and training sessions is crucial. A survey involving many European countries needs time for preparation and conduct. Materials for quality control prepared for all steps of recruitment, fieldwork and sampling proved to be important to warrant reliable results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.


  • Fieldwork
  • Human biomonitoring
  • Lessons learned
  • Recruitment


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