True commitment to engaging, recruiting and retaining members of minority or underrepresented populations in Alzheimer's research, could be demonstrated by ensuring that clinical investigators,"steering committees"and research teams are consistently representative. Strategies that have proven successful, though perhaps more labor and cost intensive, should be promoted.
Building enduring relationships in minority communities requires time and consistent effort. Community relationship development should be an ongoing, functional activity and not created just for obtaining a letter of support for a project proposal. Diverse communities have their own formal and well established community service/health/ social networks with both local and national affiliations that we can work with. Initiatives at the MAYO Clinic led by Drs. Sharonne Hayes and Michele Halyard at Rochester and Arizona, do this successfully. Here in Atlanta, we are using these networks with much improved interest and participation.
Bottlenecks occur and participation lags when our research personnel are NOT responsive. All research coordinators and research center's are NOT comfortable with "diversity". Are we really interested in recruiting Latin Americans with limited English proficiency if there are no Spanish speaking coordinators or assistants available who can use the Spanish language documents? Discomfort with diversity manifests itself in different ways. Can we objectively address these aspects of recruitment and retention without getting defensive?
Monica W. Parker, MD
(Submitted on behalf of Dr. Parker, who originally submitted this comment to the Inside NIA blog.)