Journal of Community Genetics

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 283–291 | Cite as

Leveraging community-based participatory research capacity to recruit Pacific Islanders into a genetics study

  • Pearl A. McElfish
  • Marie-Rachelle Narcisse
  • Christopher R. Long
  • Britni L. Ayers
  • Nicola L. Hawley
  • Nia Aitaoto
  • Sheldon Riklon
  • L. Joseph Su
  • Shumona Z. Ima
  • Ralph O. Wilmoth
  • Thomas K. Schulz
  • Susan Kadlubar
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Inclusion of Diverse Populations In Genomics Research and Health Services: A Scientific and Health Equity Imperative


Pacific Islanders face many health disparities, including higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Specifically, the Marshallese population suffers disproportionately from type 2 diabetes, with rates 400% higher than the general US population. As part of an ongoing community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership, 148 participants were recruited for a study examining genetic variants to better understand diabetes. Participants provided a saliva specimen in an Oragene® DNA self-collection kit. Each participant provided approximately 2 mL volume of saliva and was asked qualitative questions about their experience. The study yielded a recruitment rate of 95.5%. Among the 148 persons who participated, 143 (96.6%) agreed to be contacted for future studies; 142 (95.9%) agreed to have their samples used for future IRB-approved studies; and 144 (97.3%) gave permission for the researchers to link information from this study to other studies in which they had participated. Qualitative responses showed that the majority of participants were willing to participate because of their desire to contribute to the health of their community and to understand the genetic influence related to diabetes. This study demonstrates willingness to participate in genetic research among Marshallese living in Arkansas. Willingness was likely enhanced because the feasibility study was part of a larger CBPR effort. This study is important to community stakeholders who have voiced a desire to collaboratively conduct genetic research related to diabetes, perinatal outcomes, and cancer.


Community-based participatory research Pacific Islanders Genetics Diabetes 


Authors Contributions

All authors contributed to this work. P.M., S.K, and J.S. conceptualized the project, conducted data analyses, and wrote the paper. S.I. collected data, assisted with data analysis, and edited the paper. T.S. and R.W. collected data and edited the paper. R.N., C.L., and B.A. wrote sections and edited the paper. N.H., S.R., and N.A. provided extensive editing to the paper. All authors discussed the results and implications and commented on the manuscript at all stages. N.A. and S.R. are members of the Pacific Islander Community.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

No authors have conflicts of interest to report. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Health. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science Northwest reviewed and approved the study procedures described in the article #205419.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pearl A. McElfish
    • 1
  • Marie-Rachelle Narcisse
    • 1
  • Christopher R. Long
    • 1
  • Britni L. Ayers
    • 1
  • Nicola L. Hawley
    • 2
  • Nia Aitaoto
    • 1
  • Sheldon Riklon
    • 1
  • L. Joseph Su
    • 3
  • Shumona Z. Ima
    • 1
  • Ralph O. Wilmoth
    • 1
  • Thomas K. Schulz
    • 4
  • Susan Kadlubar
    • 5
  1. 1.Office of Community Health and ResearchUniversity of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Northwest CampusFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chronic Disease EpidemiologyYale School of Public HealthNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, College of Public HealthUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA
  4. 4.Department of Internal Medicine Division of Hematology/OncologyUAMS College of Medicine, NorthwestFayettevilleUSA
  5. 5.Division of Medical GeneticsUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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