A Culturally Sensitive Approach to Large-Scale Prevention Studies: A Case Study of a Randomized Controlled Trial With Low-Income Latino Communities

J Prim Prev. 2017 Dec;38(6):627-645. doi: 10.1007/s10935-017-0487-2.


In response to U.S. federal mandates to increase the presence of underrepresented populations in prevention research, investigators have increasingly focused on using culturally sensitive research practices. However, scholars have rarely discussed these practices in terms of a larger culturally sensitive framework. Further, while the literature has explored how culturally sensitive approaches can be employed in a variety of methods, there has been little examination of how to incorporate such approaches into experimental designs. In this paper, we explain how we incorporated a culturally sensitive framework in a cluster randomized field trial with over 3000 predominantly low-income Latino families, utilizing an intervention designed to improve social relations and enhance family functioning. We offer conceptual and practical examples to guide other researchers who want to adopt a similar approach in their research designs. In addition, we discuss the benefits of forging local partnerships throughout the research process to ensure respect for racial and ethnic minorities participating in social and behavioral experimental studies. We conclude with practical considerations for utilizing a culturally sensitive framework to advance prevention programs, policies, and practices among underrepresented groups in order to achieve the ultimate goal of addressing the traditional underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in research.

Keywords: Culturally-sensitive research; FAST; Latinos; Prevention research; Randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Poverty / ethnology*
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic