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Recruiting Rural Parents/Infants to Health Research Projects: Atopic Dermatitis

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Recruitment of minority group members and the residents of rural communities to health research studies are especially challenging. Lack of participation in research studies among rural and minority individuals may result from logistical barriers, lack of information, sociocultural factors or specific attitudes. The barriers to recruiting participants for research studies in rural communities are only poorly defined, and recruitment may be most difficult when it comes to collecting genetic and environmental data. We propose this R21 feasibility study to assess factors related to recruiting rural and minority parents to a study that would involve themselves and their children in an assessment of their behavioral, home environmental and genetic characteristics. Specifically, this project will: (1) delineate the positive and negative attitudes, beliefs and experiences that would affect the enrollment of rural African American and white parents (mothers) in health research studies in which they will be asked to (a) complete detailed interviews, (b) allow environmental assessments of their homes, and (c) allow the collection of biological samples from their infants for genetic analysis;(2) delineate positive and negative social and geographic structural factors that would affect the enrollment of rural African American and white parents in health research studies;and (3) determine approaches and procedures that will enhance the positive factors and mitigate negative factors in the recruitment of rural African American and white parents to health research studies. The investigators'long term goal is to conduct a research project that delineates gene-environment interactions in the prevalence of atopic dermatitis (AD). AD is the most common skin disease of young children, particularly in minority populations, with a prevalence ranging from 5-20%. AD decreases the quality of life for child, parents and family, results in significant health care expenditures, and delays child development and learning. However, little is known about the factors that cause or affect the course of this disease. Guided by a conceptual framework that proposes a community-based design to increase the participation of minority and rural community residents in health research and intervention studies, this study will use a systematic qualitative research design. The project will be conducted in three rural counties with large minority populations, with the counties located in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Research will begin with a systematic approach to community entre in which community support for the project will be established. Data collection will be based on semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted with representative samples of 29 community leaders and service providers, as well as 60 mothers of infants and young children who reside in these counties. Analysis of the textual data resulting from these tape- recorded interviews will be based on computer-assisted systematic techniques that provide valid and reliable results.

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