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Slattery, Leah Nicole (2007) ASSESSING THE PERCEPTIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS TOWARD GENETICS AND GENETICS RESEARCH. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh aims to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities especially in the areas of diabetes and hypertension. One avenue for eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities is through biomedical and public health research. The CMH strives to increase African American participation in research through community outreach programs including the Healthy Black Family Project. The HBFP is a community based intervention created to promote health and prevent disease through lifestyle behavior change in the African American community in Pittsburgh. The present study recruited individuals from the HBFP for focus groups to assess the perceptions of African Americans in the Pittsburgh area toward genetics and genetics research. Specifically, the study sought to characterize the willingness of African Americans to donate DNA for research examining the roles of genes and environment in disease development. The CMH is interested in this research because it has been suggested that uncovering the genetic and environmental contributions to common diseases such as diabetes and hypertension may help illuminate causes of racial and ethnic health disparities and allow for more effective strategies for prevention and treatment. Transcripts from four focus groups attended by 43 people were read and coded using thematic analysis. Findings suggest participants are acutely aware of potential negative consequences of donating genetic material however, cautious optimism was expressed when discussing benefits of research. Additionally, the results suggest that researchers must actively work to build trust with potential research participants to increase willingness to participate. The findings also suggest a strong association of the term genetics with family history, a limited understanding of the biological aspects of genetics, and a sensationalized view of genetics research. These last three issues may be addressed through a genetics education outreach program. This study is relevant to the field of public health because it provides researchers with direction in their effort to better characterize the willingness of African Americans to donate DNA for genetics research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Slattery, Leah
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairThomas, Stephen B
Committee MemberGettig, Elizabeth A
Committee MemberButler, James
Committee MemberGrubs, Robin E
Date: 27 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 March 2007
Approval Date: 27 June 2007
Submission Date: 12 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Genetic Counseling
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: African American; biobank; genetics; research
Other ID:, etd-04122007-193007
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:36
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:39


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