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Recruiting Participants from Underserved Groups


Many organizations and agencies seek to diversify their outreach. This is critical in creating culturally tailored programs and evaluations. Reducing disparities and achieving equity for all people can only happen when organizations are intentional about working with underserved groups.


Few practical frameworks exist in this area. Researchers Yui Matsuda, Jada Brooks, and Linda Beeber concluded that “what we lack is systematic efforts to advance the science of research participant recruitment.”[1] In their study, they developed guidelines with four components: 1) evaluate the team’s composition, 2) engage with cultural insiders, 3) reflect on the unique cultural characteristics of the community, and 4) carefully match those who reach out to the community with community members.


We at ACET continuously examine the best-practice strategies that work to recruit and engage participants from underserved groups. A few tips:


1. Partner with cultural insiders who can connect you to the population. These individuals may be part of an organization or leaders within the community.


2. Meet people where they are. Don’t expect people to come to you. (They typically won’t.) Instead, go where they meet and hang out. Meet them with a cultural insider.


3. Name that you’re an outsider. Encourage members of the group to teach you and help you learn about the community in order to work with them. Work on building a relationship while being mindful that you’re not part of the group.


If you’re interested in having ACET help you recruit and work with participants from underserved groups, please contact us at info@acetinc.com. We offer a free initial consultation!


[1] Matsuda, Y., Brooks, J., and Beeber, L. (November 2016). Guidelines for research recruitment of underserved populations (EERC). Applied Nursing Research, Vol. 32, 164-170.

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