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The Gerontologist 43:52-61 (2003)
© 2003 The Gerontological Society of America

Recruitment of Older African Americans for Survey Research: A Process Evaluation of the Community and Church-Based Strategy in the Durham Elders Project

Peter S. Reed, MPH1,, Kristie Long Foley, PhD2, John Hatch, DrPH3 and Elizabeth J. Mutran, , PhD1

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Peter S. Reed, Center on Minority Aging, Institute on Aging, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 720 Airport Road, CB 1030, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. E-mail: preed{at}

Purpose: The disproportionately high burden of morbidity and mortality among older African Americans is due, in part, to a lack of understanding of the factors contributing to these outcomes. In order to more fully understand the factors that contribute to African American morbidity and mortality, researchers must identify strategies for increasing the inclusion of older African Americans in research on social and health phenomena. Design and Methods: This article is a process evaluation describing the successes and challenges associated with recruitment of older African Americans into research. It considers an effort to nurture collaboration between university and community institutions to both facilitate research endeavors and offer meaningful and culturally-appropriate contributions to the community. Results: The primary challenges discovered in this observational process evaluation of a church-based recruitment strategy include the effective coordination of a community research advisory board, ensuring participant autonomy, and reducing concerns of exploitation among potential participants. Implications: A strategy of coordinating a community research advisory board to incorporate the views of community members and to drive a church-based recruitment procedure provides a starting point for tapping into an immensely important segment of society historically ignored by the research community.

Key Words: Minority elders • Research participants • Partnerships

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Copyright © 2003 by The Gerontological Society of America.