Click on one of the titles below, or scroll down, to view details of these completed research studies:


Promoting Breast Cancer Screening among African American Women in Prince George's County, Maryland: A Qualitative Exploration

This sought to explore factors that impact breast cancer (BC) screening behaviors among African American women specifically in Prince George’s County. The goal of this study was to delineate specific methods to effectively promote screening in the county. As a whole, women in Prince George’s County tend to be better educated, have medical insurance and have higher incomes than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. Thus, this study was structured to focus on issues (perceptions of risk, knowledge of BC, family environment) most relevant to our priority population. Another goal was to focus specifically on avenues to screening rather than barriers which suited our desire to develop actionable results.

For this project we implemented a qualitative design to explore BC screening beliefs and behaviors in the county among three types of groups:

  1. African American women living in Prince George’s County (4 focus groups),
  2. Community health navigators working in the county (1 focus group), and
  3. Community leaders and stakeholders in the county (1 focus group)

Preliminary findings from the initial four focus groups with the African American women were presented at the two subsequent groups.

Women’s groups included 26 participants with an age range of 42-64 and a median age of 52.5.  Women were recruited from Doctor’s Community Hospital records. We specifically sought women with some experience with screenings to explore pathways to screening. Participants all had received at least one mammogram in the previous 5 years but only 15% reported that they have a mammogram every year.

The navigators’ group consisted of six participants employed as health care navigators in Prince George’s County area hospitals. The community leaders’ group was attended by approximately 20 participants who were stakeholders in the community. They included representatives from several community based organizations serving African American women, healthcare providers, local government, Prince George’s County Health Department, and the faith community.

To learn more, click here to download the final report.

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Investigating Factors Associated with Participation of Racial & Ethnic Minority Populations in FDA Regulated Research
  • Principal Investigator: Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD
  • Funded by the US Food and Drug Administration through the University of Maryland Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation
  • Overview: Successful inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities in research that leads to development of FDA regulated drugs and devices is critical to ensuring that such products, when approved, are effective and safe for all populations. To reinforce this goal, the 2012 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act placed new demands on industry and the FDA to ensure that applications for drug or device approval provide data on the inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities in the trials on which the applications are based. Understanding the regulations and their implementation and the extent to which industry, in collaboration with the FDA, can meet these demands is of particular importance to the FDA Office of Minority Health. These efforts are also consistent with the University of Maryland Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation, (M-CERSI): to foster the development of regulatory science, which includes developing new tools, standards and approaches to assess the safety, efficacy, quality and performance of FDA regulated products. This project employs a social and behavioral science approach to advance our understanding of the current status of minority inclusion in industry research that results in applications for drug or device approvals. Additionally, the project will draw upon our existing curriculum, ‘Becoming a Self-Reflective Researcher: Successfully Engaging Minority Communities’ and use results from the data collection portion of this project to tailor that training.
  • Specific Aims:
    • Aim 1: Prepare a review of existing literature and FDA reports pertinent to minority inclusion in industry sponsored and FDA-related trials
    • Aim 2: Conduct key informant interviews with FDA staff, industry investigators, and clinical research organizations to understand and document current practices, and facilitators and barriers to successful inclusion of minorities in regulated trials
    • Aim 3:  Tailor curriculum modules, as necessary, from the training program, ‘Becoming a Self-Reflective Researcher: Successfully Engaging Minority Communities’, based on results of aims 1 and 2.

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Prevention of Major Depression in Older African Americans (Depression Prevention Study)

  • Overview: Major depression in later life is common, especially in primary care settings, where the six month prevalence is 6-10%. It undermines treatment adherence and amplifies the disability associated with co-existing medical (e.g., hypertension and diabetes) and psychosocial (e.g., bereavement) problems. It is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Because treatment is only partially effective, reflecting both social inequalities in outcomes of depression-treatment and particularly difficult mental health-care disparities affecting older African Americans, preventing depression in later life is an important public health priority.

    The purpose of this study is to help establish whether the Problem-Solving Therapy for Primary Care (PST-PC), which is tailored to address specific risk factors for depression (e.g., insomnia, bereavement, disability related to medical illness, and isolation) and which has been shown to be acceptable to older African American patients in primary care, is a useful strategy for indicated preventive intervention of major depression in black and white people aged 50 and older, thereby overcoming mental health care disparities and improving care.

  • Specific Aims: A target of 306 adults  (153 black and 153 white) aged 50 and older who are already symptomatic but not clinically depressed will be recruited to participate in a randomized trial designed to test the following hypotheses related to the study of "indicated preventive intervention":
    • Hypothesis 1: The use of Problem-Solving Therapy for Primary Care (PST-PC) will be superior to an attention-only, supportive control condition (providing education in health dietary practices: DIET) in lowering the incidence of major depressive episodes over two years.
    • Hypothesis 2: Over a two-year period of follow up, PST-PC (relative to DIET) will lower levels of depressive symptoms and improve health-related quality of life.

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Building Trust between Minorities and Researchers

Principal Investigators:  Sandra C. Quinn, PhD and Stephen B. Thomas, PhD

Building Trust between Minorities and Researchers (BT) was a bioethics research initiative designed to address the underrepresentation of many minority groups in research.  While the grant period of the project is now complete, Building Trust remains a central theme of the M-CHE’s mission.

The BT Initiative featured five specific aims that included both research and educational components.  The research component encompassed three of the specific aims and consisted of three major research studies.  The studies included:

  1. An online survey of researchers, research staff, IRB members, community members, and IRB staff,
  2. In-depth interviews with principal investigators to study best practices to include racial and ethnic minorities in research, and
  3. A national, random-digit dial telephone survey with African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos to understand knowledge and attitudes about health and medical research.

1. Online Survey of Researchers (Researcher Survey)

General Overview:  The purpose of this study was to delineate the attitudes of researchers toward engagement with minority communities, barriers to recruitment, and successful engagement.  This was accomplished via an on-line survey with PIs/co-investigators, research staff, and IRB members, from May-August 2010 (n=347).  Email invitations were sent through listservs of PRIM&R, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, numerous clinical and translational science institutes, colleagues, and webinars.  Additionally, invitations to participate were included in publications such as IRB Advisor, and several Facebook sites including those for CDC, APHA, and JME.

Questions:  Participants were asked a series of questions in the following categories:

  1. Socio-demographics
  2. Conducting research with minority populations
  3. Recruiting minorities into research
  4. Retaining minorities in research
  5. The informed consent process
  6. The Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  7. Working with Community Advisory Boards
  8. Community involvement in research

Questions were a combination of yes/no, select from a list, Likert-scale, and open-ended.

Select Publications and Presentations regarding this study can be found here.

2.  In-depth telephone interviews with researchers

General Overview: The purpose of this study was to conduct telephone interviews with a sample of researchers to determine best practices for recruitment and engagement of racial and ethnic minorities onto research.  This specific aim was accomplished through a series of semi-structured interviews with researchers (N=31) with known success in engaging minority populations in research.  Interviews were conducted by ICF MACRO, Inc. beginning in June 2010.  This was a purposive, convenience sample.  Participants were selected by the following methods:

  • Identified through the NIH RePORTer (formerlly CRISP) database
  • Word of mouth referral from BT PIs and Co-Is
  • Reviews of literature in the area of successful recruitment of minority participants

Questions: The interview protocol for these semi-structured interviews was developed from a combination of literature review, team knowledge, and pilot testing (n=6).  In the end, the protocol included 21 questions (not including probes) and covered domains including:

  1. Experience conducting research
  2. Strategies used to build partnerships
  3. Strategies used to recruit & retain minority participants
  4. Challenges encountered in the recruitment & retention of participants
  5. Overall perspective toward engaging minorities in research

Each interview took 33 to 82 minutes to complete.

Select Publications and Presentations regarding this study can be found here.

3.  National telephone survey with African Americans and Latinos (Community Survey)

General Overview:  The purpose of this study was to identify the level of knowledge of research, research terminology, informed consent procedures, human subjects protections, and trust through a telephone survey with a nationally representative sample of racial and ethnic minority adults.  The survey was conducted  June-December 2010 with African American and Hispanic adults (n=2455).  Participants were randomly selected based on telephone exchanges associated with geographic areas of high concentrations of African Americans and Latinos.  To identify the appropriate exchanges, directory-listed telephone numbers were mapped and assigned to a specific geographic locations (such as census block group, census tract, or zip code), and those exchanges with an estimated concentration of African Americans and Latinos of at least 40% were used.

Questions:  Community respondents were asked a series of questions in in the following categories:

  1. Medical Care
  2. Risk Perception
  3. Trust in Research
  4. Willingness to Participate in Research
  5. Experiences of Discrimination
  6. Human Subjects Protection
  7. Informed Consent
  8. Knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs
  9. Social Support
  10. Religious Involvement
  11. Socio-Demographics

Questions were a combination of yes/no, select from a list, Likert scale, and open-ended.

Select Publications and Presentations regarding this study can be found here.

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Public Health Impact Study of Prince George’s County

For more information, please visit The Prince George’s County Public Health Impact Assessment website.

The Prince George’s County Public Health Impact Assessment was a study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Public Health to assess the potential public health impact of a new healthcare system for the county.  The school was asked to conduct the study to provide input into the design of the new healthcare delivery system.

Among the specific aims of the overall project, which was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of senior researchers in the School of Public Health, was to gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare needs of Prince George’s County residents.  To accomplish this goal, an M-CHE team led by Sandra Crouse Quinn conducted a telephone survey of county residents.  1000 county residents completed the 20 minute survey, during which they were asked about:

  • Their health and well-being
  • Their healthcare behaviors and experiences
  • Their perceptions of healthcare available in Prince George’s County, and attitudes towards county hospitals
  • The healthcare needs of their family and the county

Results from the survey were incorporated into a comprehensive report to help inform planners, county officials, health care representatives, stakeholders, and other parties on how to develop a healthcare system that incorporates the views and perspectives of the people with the most to gain.

Download the full report here: Public Health Impact Study

Additional analysis of the data is ongoing.

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Factors affecting the willingness and ability of the public to accept a H1N1 influenza vaccine, treatment and follow mitigation recommendations

  • Principal Investigator on Supplement:  Sandra Crouse Quinn
  • Funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1 PO1 TP000304-02, M. Potter, PI, overall grant)
  • Overview:  This study included two national surveys in 2009 and 2010 to examine critical issues on vaccine acceptance and uptake; EUA acceptance; disparities in H1N1 exposure, susceptibility and treatment; trust in government and spokespersons; perceived susceptibility, severity and self-efficacy; participation in preventive behaviors; use of information sources including social media.  It was a unique opportunity to examine these issues in real time, and follow changes in public attitudes and willingness to accept public health recommendations in a longitudinal manner.
  • Specific Aims:
    • Aim 1: Explore the attitudes toward the use of drugs and vaccines in a pandemic emergency, including willingness to take new drugs or vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization
    • Aim 2: Examine empirically disparities in exposure, susceptibility, and access to treatment that may place minority or other populations who already experience health disparities at higher risk during a pandemic
    • Aim 3: Explore attitudes toward and psychosocial factors associated with support for government actions to mitigate the pandemic
    • Aim 4: Examine psychosocial factors, trust in governmental and public health officials, and use of social media

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Click here to see a list of selected publications.