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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Maryland: Study Explores African American Decisions to Participate in Genomics Research

African Americans are more likely to participate in genomics research when they trust the researchers, Ms.  Amelia Jamison and Dr. Stephen B. Thomas found in a recent study.  

Because there is an urgent need for participant diversity in genomics research, as it is the key to understanding genetic variation in health, researchers aimed to explore the decision to participate in genomics research by creating hypothetical research scenarios. 

Ms. Jamison, a faculty research assistant at the Center for Health Equity, and Thomas, professor of health policy and management, along with their co-authors conducted interviews in African American barbershops in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, Maryland. 

They found that trust is an important factor when making the decision to participate in a study. Participant trust increases — even in the absence of interpersonal connections — when the goals of the researchers are aligned with the needs and interests of the African American community. 

Trust also increases when the research has the potential to advance the careers of other African Americans, because participants see this as an indication that the researchers are on their side.

On the flip side, the study found that African Americans are less willing to participate when they fear the researchers had “hidden agendas” or when there are vague, unfamiliar or ambiguous protocols. The study suggests that researchers make sure their study protocols make sense to participants.

The study was published in Public Health Genomics.

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