In this Phase I SBIR project, ?Improving Mobile Access for Recruiting Study Volunteers from Underrepresented Populations for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Other Studies,? we will develop,test and finalize a prototype mobile-responsive website to enable broader, faster, and more cost efficient engagement of research study participants from underrepresented and minority populations. Specifically, we will employ a range of research and testing to identify barriers and facilitators in the recruitment of healthy underrepresented populations for health registries, with a particular focus on mobile devices. We will use data from these assessments to build, test, and finalize a prototype mobile-responsive recruitment website to measurably improve engagement and recruitment of healthy underrepresented and minority participants for Alzheimer?s preventive research. Recruiting healthy participants for Alzheimer?s studies can be a significant burden in time and cost, and create the risk of failure to achieve study goals. It is well-documented that underrepresented populations, including minorities, are significantly underrepresented in health research. Prevention research proves an additional challenge; such studies require healthy participants, who can be even harder to engage. The inability to recruit such participants in sufficient numbers can delay studies and limit generalizability of findings. African Americans and Hispanics are at increased risk for AD, in part due to a higher prevalence of comorbid conditions that are AD risk factors. Yet the 335,000-member APR, a site built by Provoc with Banner Alzheimer?s Institute (BAI) has 11% self reported minority enrollment. Other recruitment registries face similar imbalances. Initiatives such as the National Plan to Address AD call for greater attention to monitoring and identifying strategies to increase enrollment of racial and ethnic minorities in AD studies. To increase minority participation, we must address barriers such as lack of access to technology, cultural beliefs, low literacy, the legacy of systemic oppression and distrust and other barriers that prevent access and engagement. Increasingly, mobile technology is seen as a key to reaching underrepresented populations. African American and Hispanic populations are underrepresented in research studies, and, on average, perform lower on literacy tests. They also rely heavily on mobile technology ? the source of nearly half of APR?s traffic. Some ?43% of the general US population can be defined as low literacy?. By improving access for underrepresented populations, we also improve access for a significant portion of the general population of users and potentially all users. This can increase the audience for the commercial product developed in Phase II of this project beyond just the underrepresented population targeted in Phase I. These factors define a critical need for accessible, usable mobile technology to support health study recruitment and engagement of underrepresented populations, as well as those in the general population who struggle with access to and comprehension of web-based materials. We hypothesize that addressing barriers and improving mobile usability will expand participation of healthy volunteers from underrepresented audiences in health studies. To test this hypothesis, principal investigators Raj Aggarwal of Provoc and Dr. Jessica Langbaum of Banner Alzheimer?s Institute, with experience in recruitment, retention, community engagement and education? with consulting support from Dr. Usha Menon of the University of South Florida, Aaron Plant of Sentient Research, and Rob Russell, Ph.D will develop a proof-of-concept mobile recruiting and engagement website targeted at? ?health study participants from a healthy underrepresented audience. This will provide proof of concept for Phase II commercial products to aid in recruitment of underrepresented and general populations. Such products might include optimization of UI and language on APR to improve recruitment for underrepresented populations and other participants, a web-based ?checker? that rates accessibility for online registries (and possibly any website) for underrepresented populations, or a replicable online recruitment registry. This last product might take the form of a software-as-a-service product, a mobile app, or a website template, any of which could be deployed and customized to a study?s recruitment and engagement needs. Another possible product would be a registry that recruits and engages underrepresented populations from which research studies can recruit.
Specific Aim 1 : ?Identify barriers and facilitators in the recruitment of healthy volunteers from underrepresented populations for health registries, with a particular focus on mobile devices?.? ?Specific Aim 2: Build, test, and finalize a prototype mobile-responsive website to increase registration among healthy volunteers from underrepresented populations.
We will develop, test, and finalize a prototype mobile-responsive website to enable broader, faster, and more cost efficient engagement of healthy research study participants from underrepresented and minority populations. Our work will address a key need and knowledge gap for recruitment for health studies, with particular relevance for Alzheimer?s preventive research. Specifically, we will employ a range of research and testing to identify barriers and facilitators in the recruitment of healthy underrepresented populations for health registries, with a particular focus on mobile devices. We will use data from these assessments to build test and finalize a prototype mobile-responsive recruitment website to measurably improve engagement and recruitment of healthy underrepresented and minority participants for Alzheimer?s preventive research.