African American; African American college students; Challenges; Group-randomized trials; Health – Research; Health-related research; Recruitment; Strategies


Community-Based Research | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Race and Ethnicity


Lack of research participation among African Americans is problematic for population relevant health disparity research. The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe challenges and strategies in recruitment of African American college students for health related research being conducted at a small Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Upon completion of a recruitment and retention literature review, study investigators constructed and tested a culturally-specific, direct-appeal protocol to recruit participants. Major barriers to recruitment of African American college students included discrete sources of distrust, lack of understanding of the research process, and logistical concerns. Implementation of a culturally-specific, direct appeal protocol led to a significant improvement in recruitment and retention of student participants. It is imperative that researchers demystify scientific investigation as a first step towards building trust between themselves and target populations, particularly those from traditionally underrepresented groups. Reasons for distrust, a need for trust and trust building strategies are offered here.