Willingness to Participate in Health Research Among Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Does Race/Ethnicity Matter?

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2021 Jun;8(3):773-782. doi: 10.1007/s40615-020-00839-y. Epub 2020 Aug 17.


Introduction: Older adults, including racial and ethnic minorities, are underrepresented in research. As the US population ages, the number of older racial and ethnic minority individuals will increase. Including these individuals in research is an important step towards reducing health disparities.

Methods: We used data from HealthStreet, a University of Florida community engagement program which uses community health workers to assess the health of the community, to assess willingness to participate in different types of health research by race/ethnicity. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models were used to assess willingness to participate among adults aged 50 and older, by race/ethnicity (n = 4694).

Results: Our sample was 42.0% non-Hispanic White, 52.8% non-Hispanic Black, and 5.2% Hispanic. Non-Hispanic White participants reported more past research participation than non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic participants (28.7% vs. 19.0% and 19.2%, respectively). Compared with non-Hispanic White participants, non-Hispanic Black participants were less willing to participate in most types of studies, while Hispanic participants were less willing to participate in studies that might be seen as invasive (required blood sample, genetic sample, or participants to take medicine, or use of medical equipment).

Conclusions: Our study provides investigators with a general profile of research preferences by race/ethnicity; compared with non-Hispanic White individuals, non-Hispanic Black individuals are less willing to participate in most studies, while Hispanic individuals are less willing to participate in studies that may be seen as invasive or demanding. It is imperative to include diverse older adults in health research. By tailoring research based on preferences we can improve recruitment in underrepresented populations.

Keywords: Minorities; Older adults; Recruitment; Research participation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural