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Community perceptions of genomic research:... [N C Med J. 2013 Nov-Dec] - PubMed - NCBI

Community perceptions of genomic research:... [N C Med J. 2013 Nov-Dec] - PubMed - NCBI

 2013 Nov-Dec;74(6):470-6.

Community perceptions of genomic research: implications for addressing health disparities.



Increasing the engagement of racial and ethnic minorities in genomic research may help alleviate health disparities. This paper examines community perceptions of the relationships between race, genes, environment, and health disparities, and it discusses how such perceptions may influence participation in genomic research.


We conducted semi-structured interviews with 91 African American, Latino, and white lay community members and community leaders in North Carolina. Using constant comparison methods, we identified, compared, and developed linkages between conceptual categories and respondent groups.


Participants described gene-environment interactions as contributing to group differences in health outcomes, expressed the belief that genetic predisposition to disease differs across groups, and said that social conditions trigger group-level genetic differences and create poorer health outcomes among African Americans.


Given the regional presence of major research institutions and the relatively high education level of many participants, this sample may not reflect the perspectives of those most disparately affected by health disparities.


Members from multiple community sectors share perceptions and may respond to similar approaches when attempts are made to increase participation in genomic research. Researchers may inadvertently fuel the perception that health disparities experienced by minorities are rooted in the shared genomes of a particular group as distinct from those of other groups. The way researchers use race and ethnicity in recruitment, analysis, and communication of research findings inaccurately implies that there are genetic differences between races, when categories of social experience or ancestry may more accurately characterize health differences. Understanding these issues is crucial to designing effective community engagement strategies, recruitment plans, and messages about genomic research, which could ultimately help to lessen health disparities.

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