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Key Personnel

Core Co-Director:
Martha R. Crowther, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
University of Alabama

Core Co-Director:
Raegan Durant, MD
Associate Professor Medicine
Division of Preventive Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Program Director:
Vivian Carter, PhD
Deputy Director for Community Engagement
Health Disparities Institute for Research and Education
Tuskegee University

Specific Aims

The primary objectives of the Deep South RCMAR Core C (Community Liaison Core [CLC]) are to educate, train, and mentor Scholars in theory-based approaches to engaging older African American in health-related research, assist RCMAR Scholars in recruiting older African Americans in their research studies, and to build a sustainable infrastructure that will generate and disseminate new knowledge regarding the science of recruitment and retention.

The RFA (RFA-AG-12-012) states that “The CLC will create and maintain relationships with diverse community-based organizations to develop subject pools for RCMAR research involvement.” Consistent with this focus, community engagement will be central to the Deep South RCMAR CLC. We recognize that communities have their own identity, seek to facilitate collaborative, equitable involvement of the community in research and emphasize the local relevance of public health problems from a positive and ecological (i.e., historical, social, cultural, political, economic, and biomedical) perspective. Superimposed on our commitment to community engagement is our inclusion of health behavior theories. We believe that the decision to participate in a research study is in fact a ‘behavior change’ and as such, behavior change theories can be used to design recruitment and retention approaches. Health behavior theories will assist in the understanding of how participants acquire and maintain behaviors specific to participation in research studies and provide the basis for recruitment/retention strategies specific to each trial.

Our approach to recruitment and retention draws upon research that addresses the role of culture in promoting the health of older African Americans. There are cohort differences between younger and older African Americans as a result of greater institutional policies of racism and discrimination experienced by minority elders. Consequently, older African Americans rely to a greater extent on their minority segregated communities, their cultural values, and their kinship systems than younger African Americans. In addition to family and extended kinship networks, older African Americans place high value on their religious beliefs and practices. Based on the aforementioned, recruitment and retention endeavors should reflect the rich cultural fabric of older African Americans and employ recruitment and retention strategies that are theory-based and culturally relevant.

In this application we build upon our existing community-based infrastructure that has fostered community capacity and has served as a catalyst to engage older African Americans in health-related research studies. Our CLC has successfully engaged rural and urban communities at multiple levels including individuals, organizational systems (e.g., community-based organizations), and agents of change (e.g., church leaders). Through the activities of the CLC we expect that RCMAR Scholars and investigators will continue to have access to evidence-based recruitment and retention tools for both urban and rural older African Americans, and realize enhanced participation of older African Americans in research studies, greater community “buy-in” to research projects, and clearer routes of dissemination and intervention sustainability. The engaged communities will benefit by participating in dialogue with CLC members about the research agenda; they will also benefit from enhanced access to state-of-the-art clinical research focused on older African Americans.

The specific aims of Core C (Community Liaison Core) of the Deep South RCMAR are to:

  1. Work collaboratively with the Investigator Development Core (IDC) to educate, train, and mentor RCMAR Scholars regarding the theory and approach to community engagement and assist RCMAR Scholars in recruiting older African Americans to their research studies;
  2. Advance scientific knowledge in the area of recruitment and retention of older urban and rural African Americans by empirically testing recruitment and retention strategies developed in partnership with community members;
  3. Expand capacity for community-academic partnerships to support the recruitment and retention of older urban and rural African Americans;
  4. Disseminate research findings to the scientific community and the communities we serve.
Mailing Address:

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Center for Aging
CH19 201
1720 2nd Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35294-2041