PRIM&R joins the University of Pittsburgh in “Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers”

By Amy Davis

PRIM&R is working with the University of Pittsburgh on a research grant designed to overcome barriers to greater participation by African Americans, Hispanics and other minority populations in public health and medical research, including clinical trials. The $3.96 million grant was awarded to the University’s Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The principal investigators on the project are Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD, associate dean at the University of Pittsburgh for student affairs and education and associate professor, and Stephen B. Thomas, PhD , associate dean for diversity and professor. Co-investigators come from Pitt’s GSPH, School of Medicine, and Center for Bioethics and Health Law.

The representation of racial and ethnic minority populations in public health and biomedical research still lags behind that of whites, and has been identified by the NIH as a serious problem. Over the past 15 years, Drs. Thomas and Quinn have documented multiple factors that influence the participation of minorities, including lack of access to research, lack of knowledge about the research process, and distrust of researchers.

Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the investigators will examine the attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of researchers; identify best practices in community engagement; determine the level of knowledge about research, informed consent, and willingness to participate in research among a national random sample of minorities; develop, pilot test, and revise a curriculum, “Building Trust,” for minority communities; and finally, develop and implement multiple trainings aimed at enhancing the capacity of researchers and IRB members to support recruitment and engagement with minority communities.

The primary goal of the project is to produce effective tools and a national infrastructure of educational initiatives that may be implemented and evaluated to determine the extent to which they contribute to the increase in minority participation in NIH-sponsored research. PRIM&R is proud to participate in this effort.

As a major sub-awardee to the grant, PRIM&R will be involved in the development and coordination of various educational programs over a two-year period that began in November 2009. Some of the educational initiatives that have been or will be undertaken pursuant to this grant include:

  • A pre-conference program that was held in conjunction with the 2009 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference, titled What Does it Mean to Represent the Community? A Primer on Community Participation in Research
  • A pre-conference program that will be held in conjunction with the 2010 AER Conference
  • A program to be delivered during the May Regional Program in Chicago, Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers: A National Bioethics Research Infrastructure Initiative
  • A series of three webinars to be presented in July 2010, January 2011 and May 2011 In addition, PRIM&R will help the University publicize, distribute, and track a survey for IRB professionals about minority recruitment.

PRIM&R is extremely proud to be a member of this project team, and we look forward to the presentation of the important and original research that it will generate.