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!

REFERENCES

Braunstein, J. B., Sherber, N. S., Schulman, S. P., Ding, E. L., & Powe, N. R. (2008). Race, medical researcher distrust, perceived harm, and willingness to participate in cardiovascular prevention trials. Medicine, 87(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0b013e3181625d78

Graham, L. A., Ngwa, J., Ntekim, O., Ogunlana, O., Wolday, S., Johnson, S., Johnson, M., Castor, C., Fungwe, T. V., & Obisesan, T. O. (2017). Best strategies to recruit and enroll elderly Blacks into clinical and biomedical research. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 13, 43–50. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S130112

LaVeist-Ramos, T. A., Galarraga, J., Thorpe, R. J., Jr, Bell, C. N., & Austin, C. J. (2012). Are black Hispanics black or Hispanic? Exploring disparities at the intersection of race and ethnicity. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(7), e21. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2009.103879

Marcantonio, E. R., Aneja, J., Jones, R. N., Alsop, D. C., Fong, T. G., Crosby, G. J., Culley, D. J., Cupples, L. A., & Inouye, S. K. (2008). Maximizing clinical research participation in vulnerable older persons: identification of barriers and motivators. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 56(8), 1522–1527. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532- 5415.2008.01829.x

Turkson-Ocran, R. N., Nmezi, N. A., Botchway, M. O., Szanton, S. L., Golden, S. H., Cooper, L. A., & Commodore-Mensah, Y. (2020). Comparison of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Among African Immigrants and African Americans: An Analysis of the 2010 to 2016 National Health Interview Surveys. Journal of the American Heart Association,  9(5), e013220. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.013220

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