Leveraging African American family connectors for Alzheimer’s disease genomic studies

INTRODUCTION: The underrepresentation of African Americans (AAs) in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research may limit potential benefits from translational applications. This article describes an approach to recruit AA families into an AD genomic study and characteristics of seeds (family connectors) used to overcome recruitment barriers of AA families into AD research.
METHODS: A four-step outreach and snowball sampling approach relying on family connectors was used to recruit AA families. Descriptive statistics of a profile survey were gathered to understand the demographic and health characteristics of family connectors.
RESULTS: Twenty-five AA families (117 participants) were enrolled in the study via family connectors. Most family connectors self-identified as female (88%), were 60 years of age or older (76%), and attained post-secondary education (77%).
DISCUSSION: Community-engaged strategies were essential to recruit AA families. Relationships between study coordinators and family connectors build trust early in the research process among AA families.
HIGHLIGHTS: Community events were most effective for recruiting African American families. Family connectors were primarily female, in good health, and highly educated. Systematic efforts by researchers are necessary to “sell” a study to participants.