Patient recruitment strategies vary across the world. Each region and ethnic group possess distinct subtleties rooted in its culture. Through learned experiences, our experts share a few factors to considered when seeking increased engagement with the Latino community.
Traditional recruitment techniques, such as flyers or social media ads, often yield limited responses from the Latino community. Their willingness to engage in research studies often depends on recommendations from trustworthy people in their circle, such as family, friends, or their physician. Additionally, family approval is often a crucial factor in the decision to participate in a clinical study.
Based on our learned experiences, we have also observed that the Latino community, both in the United States and Latin America, displays a strong response to cross-platform communication such as WhatsApp/Telegram groups and shareable advertisements coming from family or friends.
Facebook events and live sessions conducted in collaboration with credible experts who are part of trusted organizations consistently draws significant attendance and serves as effective channels for recruitment.
Biological Samples and Use of Personal Information
Questions often arise within the Latino community concerning the prerequisites for participation, such as whether a social security number is necessary and/or what other personal information will be collected. They will likely want to know who has access to this information, what is being done with it, and who is protecting their confidentiality.
When it comes to biological sampling, individuals within the Latino community frequently seek clarification about the procedural aspects of sample collection and the rationale behind the tests. Offering comprehensive information about the use of testing, the collection methodology, and the storage of samples for future research can foster a sense of security. Additionally, ensuring accessibility to test results and providing timely updates will help cultivate participant confidence and trust.
Accessibility and Accommodations
To ensure patient trust and to adhere to legal requirements, all measures, questionnaires, and consent documents must be presented in the participant’s native (or preferred) language.
Additionally, the study site’s location and amenities/support services (e.g., transportation, childcare, and the option to have someone accompany them to appointments) can play a pivotal role in the decision and ability to participate. Along those same lines, providing details about flexible visit options, including in-person, remote, or hybrid visits, will help families and individuals to better understand their options.
A key element of accessibility is hiring study staff who are proficient in the participant’s language. This is paramount to fostering seamless communication and building trust. Relying on translators can create barriers.
Set Expectations—Financial and Clinical
Finances are an important consideration for participants. Always be transparent about any costs they will be responsible for paying. Additionally, be clear if no costs are associated with their participation.
As with any patient population, it is important to provide information on potential benefits as well as risks and/or side effects. In addition, background information, such as treatment history, success rate, and previous results will be important factors to discuss. Be sure to clearly explain the randomization process—how and why it happens.
Put the Participant First
Engaging the Latino community in clinical research is not merely about effective recruitment: It is about building genuine trust, understanding cultural nuances, and providing comprehensive support throughout their journey. Potential participants need to know that the study team will prioritize their well-being, respond to their questions and concerns, and extend support even after the study closes. As part of this, study teams must clearly address concerns about financial security, immigration status, data confidentiality, and family values.
By taking a comprehensive and empathetic approach to recruitment and enrollment, and understanding and addressing the Latino community’s concerns, research teams can foster stronger relationships, improve enrollment, and ensure more inclusive research.
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