A Systematic Review of Strategies that Increase the Recruitment and Retention of African American Adults in Genetic and Genomic Studies

Vanessa A. Johnson
Yolanda M. Powell-Young, University of Iowa
Elisa R. Torres, University of Iowa
Ida J. Spruill


Background: The National Institutes of Health mandates the inclusion of ancestrally diverse populations into federally funded biomedical and clinical trials research. However, low participation of ethnic minorities in genetics- genomics research continues to be one of the most difficult aspects of conducting human subjects research. Objective: This systematic review was conducted to document effective recruitment strategies that increase participation in genetics- genomics studies. Methods: Extensive literature search strategies were employed to locate and appraise relevant literature reporting original data in which strategies to recruit African American adults into genetics-genomics research studies had been evaluated. Results: Six studies published up to July, 2011 were included. Informal recruitment strategies for initial contact appeared to have a more positive impact on increasing recruitment and participation numbers than formal mailings of letters and postcards. Another key stratagem identified was participant-recruiter like-ancestry. Other methods such as monetary incentives and support of the research project by community leaders were not as effective. Conclusions: Some strategies bolstered recruitment rates while others did not. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of recruitment strategies with African Americans.