Recruiting Black older adults in your study: 3 important factors to consider

Recruiting Black older adults in your study: 3 important factors to consider

Improving recruitment of black participants into gerontological and geriatric research activities is a top priority as Black older adults are less likely to participate in clinical trials and research studies. This is not surprising given the history of scientific and medical misconduct towards the Black community. As a black gerontological researcher, I have also struggled with recruiting Black older adults into my research studies. Recruitment of Black older adults is complex and there are three important things to consider when designing your recruitment plan.

  1. Black older adults are not a homogenous group. Black older adults are diverse and vary substantially in terms of disease risk factors, disease-related outcomes, or service outcomes. For example, Black African immigrants may differ from African Americans in terms of cardiovascular risk factors. Similarly Black Hispanics may differ from non- Hispanic Blacks in terms of health-related behaviors, because the Black older adults are an heterogenous group, it is important to define your study population prior to developing your recruitment plan.
  2. Consider potential barriers to participant enrollment: Along with historical distrust of the scientific and medical community and fear of harm, Black older adults may experience barriers to participation, such as transportation to study appointments. For example, Black older adults with serious illnesses such as dementia may require caregiver support to attend study visits. Some researchers have suggested alternative modes of data collection such as through telephone, video conferencing or home visits to reduce these barriers.
  3. Recruitment strategies are successful when they are tailored to the particular community of individuals involved.For example, community-based recruitment strategies such as religion-based recruitment approaches have been proven effective to build trust and study enrollment, largely due to the targeted recruitment strategies. However, a disadvantage is that it captures a homogenous group of older black adults. Researchers seeking to include a diverse group of Black older adults may need to employ multiple recruitment strategies.

These are 3 important factors to consider when developing your study recruitment plan involving Black Older Adults. Stay tuned for more thoughts on this!


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