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Research participation by members of racial or ethnic minority groups continues to be less than optimum resulting in difficulties to generalization of research findings. Community-engaged research that relies on a community health worker (CHW) model has been found effective in building trust in the community, thereby motivating people to participate in health research. The Sentinel Network study aimed at testing the feasibility of utilizing the CHW model to link community members to appropriate health research studies at each of the research sites.
The study was conducted at six Clinical and Translational Science Award institutions (N = 2371) across the country; 733 (30.9%) of the participants were from the University of Florida, 525 (22.0%) were from Washington University in St. Louis, 421 (17.8%) were from the University of California, Davis, 288 (12.1%) were from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 250 (10.5%) were from Rochester, and 154 (6.5%) from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Trained CHWs from each of these sites conducted regular community outreach where they administered a Health Needs Assessment, provided medical and social referrals, and linked to eligible research studies at each of those sites. A 30-day follow-up assessment was developed to track utilization of services satisfaction with the services and research study participation.
A large majority of people, especially African Americans, expressed willingness to participate in research studies. The top two health concerns reported by participants were hypertension and diabetes.
Findings on the rate of navigation and enrollment in research from this study indicate the effectiveness of a hybrid CHW service and research model of directly engaging community members to encourage people to participate in research.
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