UWSC to conduct research on enhancing participation in Biomarker Research in underrepresented populations

UWSC Survey Methodologist, Jen Dykema, and Project Director, Ken Croes, are partnering with Dorothy Edwards, Professor in Kinesiology and Occupational Therapy, and others on “Enhancing Participation of Underrepresented Groups in Biomarker Studies.” This project is part of a core grant to the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR).

The project entails partnering with representatives of Wisconsin tribal and ethnic/racial minority groups in a study designed to identify and enhance participation in biomarker research. Biomarker research relies on the collection of bodily fluids such as blood or cerebrospinal fluid, tissue, functional or structural imaging. It is particularly important to engage tribal, immigrant and minority populations in these studies since these groups bear a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and disability. The failure to engage such groups in biomarker research actually serves to increase health disparity ‘gaps’ by failing to identify the causes of risk differences and mediating/moderating effects of environmental, socioeconomic and behavioral variables on health outcomes. Researchers will use a community based participatory research (CBPR) approach to identify and address the barriers to biomarker study participation. Using a mixed methods approach based on a health services utilization framework, community-academic research teams will examine barriers and facilitators to participation in biomarker research projects for Alzheimer’s, pulmonary and cardiovascular disease and cancer. This framework, based on the Theory of Planned Behavior/Reasoned Action (TPB) and Andersen’s health behavior mode (HBM), has been used to examine willingness to participate in cancer clinical trials. It focuses on the cognitive factors that effect behavioral intentions (the decision to participate).

The findings of these teams will serve to inform the development of culturally tailored educational materials that will be piloted to examine whether/how intent to participate in biomarker research can be measured. Our activities in whole are designed to bring visibility to and increase participation of minority and medically underserved individuals in biomarker studies.