Date: July 15, 2009
Journal: Health Psychology (Health Psychol)
Tolsma, D., J. Calvi, et al. (2009). "Challenges in researching racially sensitive topics in HMOs." Health Psychol 28(4): 389-390.
When research designed to close the disparities gap is conducted in real-world health care settings, unique sensitivities may arise, particularly when race is the focus of interventions. Researchers encountered this issue in the course of a randomized trial investigating the influence of ethnic identity (EI) among African American (AA) study participants. The study was conducted by the research programs at three health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and the University of Michigan Center for Health Communications Research, as described in this issue of the journal (Resnicow et al., 2009). This commentary describes the research partnership's concerns for the racially sensitive nature of the study and the precautions undertaken to mitigate them. The research study's experiences may be informative and insightful for health plans and research centers invested in health disparities research.