Minority, underrepresented groups working to bring diversity to research: All of Us partners engage communities

By Michele Late, The Nation’s Health

In San Ysidro, California, many residents face barriers that might normally prevent them from taking part in health research — language, access to transportation and low incomes among them. But people in the community have a long and trusted relationship with San Ysidro Health, their community health services provider.

That relationship is key to helping people in San Ysidro become part of the All of Us Research Program, a longitudinal study launched by the National Institutes of Health in May. The program, which is working to recruit at least 1 million participants, has a goal of building one of the world’s largest and most diverse health research datasets. To do that, it needs to engage a wider range of people than health research has in the past, which is where partners such as San Ysidro Health come in.

Located in San Diego County along the U.S.-Mexico border, the health provider serves 95,000 patients a year at 34 sites, including medical and dental clinics, HIV and nutrition centers, mobile medical units and school-based health centers. Most of the provider’s patients are low-income Spanish speakers, many of whom traditionally would not be a part of health research.

But as one of dozens of U.S. health and medical centers partnering in All of Us — and one of the few community health centers with its own research department — San Ysidro Health is working to break down those barriers. Through community health educators known as “promotores,” flyers, emails and interactions with patients, the health provider is spreading the word about All of Us and encouraging people to enroll. Read more …