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J Natl Med Assoc. 1996 Nov;88(11):701-4.

Establishing a community network for recruitment of African Americans into a clinical trial. The African-American antiplatelet stroke Prevention Study (AAASPS) experience.


A major aspect of a clinical trial is the ability to successfully recruit patients. There is a paucity of information concerning the nuances of recruiting study patients, especially those from minority communities. As minorities generally have been underrepresented in the health-care system, they may be less likely to participate in clinical trials or other studies. Thus, a strategy is needed to overcome this potential shortfall. One of our solutions has been the development of a community network to help disseminate information about our program. We believe that a key aspect has been the involvement of community members during pre-trial planning, community awareness programs, and our Community Advisory Panel. We also believe that it may be a major error to bring a health-care initiative unannounced into a targeted community without extensive pre-program planning in cooperation with that community. As our community awareness scheme suggests (Figure), there are many possible avenues to heighten awareness about a health-care program. While the church remains an important institution for religious and cultural activities in the African-American community, we have found that the news, television, and radio media also can be a powerful source for spreading awareness. Thus, we recommend creating awareness about an initiative through a "grassroots" approach of church and community organizations, along with a global approach through news, television, and radio media. As part of the awareness promotion campaign, it must be emphasized that the study is safe and provides benefits to enrollees. The success of health programs is largely dependent on community acceptance, which must be established in the pre-program planning stages of the initiative. This concept of obtaining community approval and acceptance prior to program initiation is not a new one, nor does it exclusively apply to the African-American community. Community leaders and members need to have a vested interest in such a program and a sense of empowerment. Through this type of communication, patient enrollment and community satisfaction can be substantial. Such success can serve as a springboard for other targeted health-care studies or programs in high-risk communities.

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