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Study suggests Blacks and Whites differ in health research participation


Racial and ethnic minorities, especially Africa-Americans are significantly less likely to participate in health-related research than whites, says a new study from Ball State University.

This impedes the testing, development, implementation, and evaluation of various clinical and community based disease prevention and health promotion interventions, said Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor in Ball State’s College of Health and author of the study Black–White Differences in Willingness to Participate and Perceptions about Health Research.

The research, which was recently published in Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, examines health research participation history and willingness to participate.

“According to the findings, lesser-educated, older, and male African-Americans are less likely to participate in health research studies,” Khubchandani said. “It could be possible that this generation of older African-American males still experiences prejudice or is highly aware of the past exploitation of racial and ethnic minorities in healthcare research and healthcare systems.”

Researchers found that about 15 percent of African-American respondents have participated in a health research study and 48 percent would participate in a health research study if invited.  While more than a fifth of whites (23 percent) have participated in a study, majority would like to participate if invited (57 percent).

“Trust building should be a key component of healthcare professional training and practice,” he said “If individuals do not want to participate in health research studies, it becomes difficult to find better care or disease prevention methods.”

Community members ages 18 years or older enrolled in HealthStreet, an innovative community engagement research program comprised the source of study population. A total of 7,809 community members (58.6 percent females) participated in the study with 65.8 percent African-Americans and 34.2 percent whites.

The study also found:

• Older African- American males with lower education are the least likely to participate in health research studies.

• The amount of fair compensation desired by African-Americans to participate in health research studies was two times higher than Whites.

• Individuals who are unemployed, food insecure, and chronically ill are more likely to volunteer for health research studies.

• Those who have participated in health research studies in the past, are more likely to be willing to participate again, if invited to participate

“Healthcare practitioners need to ensure beneficence, justice, and respect for all. While billions of dollars are spent every year due to existing health disparities, these disparities can be reduced by better research and including racial and ethnic minorities as a key component of all healthcare initiatives from governance to consumer preference,” Khubchandani said.