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J Natl Med Assoc. 2005 Jul;97(7):972-9.

Southern community cohort study: establishing a cohort to investigate health disparities.

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International Epidemiology Institute, Rockville, MD, USA.



To demonstrate the methods of recruitment of a low-income, predominantly African-American study population for the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), a prospective epidemiologic investigation of racial disparities in cancer risk.


Partnerships with community health centers (CHCs) were formed to reach underserved populations throughout the south. Recruitment of participants (aged 40-79) in CHCs began in March 2002. Participants complete a comprehensive baseline interview and provide a blood or buccal cell sample. Recruitment will expand to the general population of the south to achieve a broad cross-section of socioeconomic status, The final cohort size is expected to be approximately 100,000.


A high level of cooperation and recruitment was achieved in the CHCs. From March 2002 to October 2004, 32,632 participants (80% black, 41% male, 62% with total household income < $15,000, 34% with < 12 years schooling) enrolled. Participants reported a high prevalence of medical conditions (21% diabetic, 44% obese) and adverse health behaviors (45% current smokers).


Working in CHCs is successful for recruiting a population that has been difficult to reach in previous studies. The SCCS is a unique cohort that will provide a rich resource for evaluating disparities in cancer and other chronic disease risk as it is followed over time.

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