Overcoming Historical Barriers: Enhancing Positive Perceptions of Medical Research Among African Americans Through a Conference-Based Workshop

La Princess C. Brewer, Maarya Pasha, Pernessa Seele, Sumedha Penheiter, Richard White, Floyd Willis, Monica Albertie, Sarah M. Jenkins, Christopher Pullins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: African Americans (AAs) and other racial/ethnic minority groups continue to be underrepresented in medical research and clinical trials. Failure to create more racially diverse research cohorts can exacerbate existing health disparities among these groups. Objective: To investigate best practices and strategies for enhancing participation of AAs in medical research among attendees of a preconference Institute at a faith-based public health conference. Design: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants: A total of 21 out of 29 attendees (90% AA) of the Institute (72% response rate). Approach: A culturally tailored preconference Institute was held at the 2017 Healthy Churches 2020 National Conference. The Institute was led by AA researchers focused on underrepresentation of AAs in medical research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted 1-year post-Institute (n=21) and were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed using thematic analysis. Key Results: The majority of attendees reported that they were more likely to participate in medical research after attending the Institute (75%). Salient learning points reported by attendees demonstrated attainment of the Institute objectives. Key themes emerged describing barriers preventing AAs from participating in medical research including fear/lack of trust, lack of information on research projects, and not being approached to participate. Key themes regarding facilitators for participation in medical research by AAs were clear communication of study objectives and research benefits along with trust in researchers. Conclusions: Attendees’ perceptions of participation in medical research were largely positive following their attendance at a conference-based Institute aimed to address the underrepresentation of AAs in medical research. Our culturally tailored approach to disseminating knowledge of the research process could extend to other national conferences prioritizing AAs and other racial/ethnic minority populations to improve research participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2547-2554
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • African Americans
  • biomedical research
  • faith-based organizations
  • health disparities
  • research participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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