Participation of African Americans in e-Health and m-Health Studies: A Systematic Review


BACKGROUND: African Americans (AA) experience high levels of health disparities for several diseases, yet remain underrepresented in clinical trials and other types of research. The high ownership of smartphones among AA puts them in a unique position to be recruited into e-Health/m-Health interventions. OBJECTIVE: This article is a systematic review of the participation of AA in e-Health/m-Health interventions, the diseases/health conditions targeted, and the recruitment and retention strategies used. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic review was done with PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, EBSCOhost, and CINAHL databases, as well as hand searches of 14 journals. The search was restricted to studies conducted in the United States and that were published between January 2000 and June 2016. Twenty-three distinct search terms were used. RESULTS: After removal of duplicates, 565 studies were screened and assessed for eligibility, and 56 met the inclusion criteria. Eight studies had exclusively AA participants. Eighty percent of the studies had female participants. Participants were recruited primarily from clinics/healthcare facilities. Forty-five percent of the studies provided monetary incentives. Only five studies addressed retention of participants. The diseases/health conditions that were studied included overweight/obesity, diabetes, physical activity, cardiovascular conditions, nutrition, prenatal health, and HIV. CONCLUSION: There was a low representation of AA in the studies in this review. Opportunities exist to engage AA in e-Health/m-Health research, but researchers must go beyond the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to determine what mixture of incentives and recruitment/retention strategies would work best for a particular health condition, population group, or community.


James DC, Harville C 2nd, Sears C, Efunbumi O, Bondoc I.




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention
    • Education/media campaigns


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