Journal of Community Genetics

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 223–231

Establishing a community partnership to optimize recruitment of African American pedigrees for a genetic epidemiology study

  • Heather M. Ochs-Balcom
  • Elisa M. Rodriguez
  • Deborah O. Erwin
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12687-011-0059-8

Cite this article as:
Ochs-Balcom, H.M., Rodriguez, E.M. & Erwin, D.O. J Community Genet (2011) 2: 223. doi:10.1007/s12687-011-0059-8


We developed a breast cancer genetic epidemiology study in collaboration with a community partnership to optimize recruitment and participation of African American women. We recognized that recruitment of relatives for a family-based study was a unique challenge in this minority group in the USA. Through an established partnership with The National Witness Project, we convened focus groups to identify potential recruitment challenges and issues related to decisions about study participation that may be unique to African Americans and family-based recruitment. Using the PEN-3 model, we analyzed qualitative data and applied the thematic findings to our recruitment protocol in order to mitigate potential recruitment challenges. The most relevant positive themes included a need for research and education and potential benefit to future generations. Negative themes included communication barriers in sharing disease status within a family and historical issues such as fatalistic attitudes and shamefulness of cancer. Collaboration with community partners allowed for development of culturally appropriate recruitment strategies for African American breast cancer survivors and their family members for a genetic epidemiology study. Understanding factors unique to family-based recruitment in the USA is a significant factor in enhancing participation of under-represented minorities in future genetic studies.


African American Genetic epidemiology Study design Family study Community-based research 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather M. Ochs-Balcom
    • 1
  • Elisa M. Rodriguez
    • 2
  • Deborah O. Erwin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral Science and Community Health, College of Public Health and Health ProfessionsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research, Department of Cancer Prevention and Population SciencesRoswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffaloUSA

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