Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Public Health. 2015 Sep;105(9):1744-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302783. Epub 2015 Jul 16.

Addressing the Challenges of Research With Small Populations.

Author information

Diane M. Korngiebel is with the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington, Seattle. Maile Taualii is with Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health, Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Ralph Forquera is with the Seattle Indian Health Board, Seattle. Raymond Harris is with the Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle. Dedra Buchwald is with the Departments of Epidemiology and Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.


Public health policy relies on accurate data, which are often unavailable for small populations, especially indigenous groups. Yet these groups have some of the worst health disparities in the United States, making it an ethical imperative to explore creative solutions to the problem of insufficient data. We discuss the limits of widely applied methods of data aggregation and propose a mixed-methods approach to data borrowing as a way to augment sample sizes. In this approach, community partners assist in selecting related populations that make suitable "neighbors" to enlarge the data pool. The result will be data that are substantial, accurate, and relevant to the needs of small populations, especially for health-related policy and decision-making at all levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center