Nurses and other health scientists face serious challenges in recruiting African Americans as research participants. The trend in published research shows a declining representation of African Americans in study groups, particularly in nursing and clinical trial research (Mouton, Harris, Rovi, Solorzano, & Johnson, l997; Shavers-Hornaday, Lynch, Burmeister, & Torner, l997; Plowden &Wenger, 2001). Published research involving African Americans has almost disappeared from the literature in major American Psychological Association journals since the l970s; the overall percentage of research studies involving African Americans is a mere 3.6% (Graham, l992).

A review of the literature offers reasons for African American’s lack of participation in studies. Issues include the participants’ lack of understanding and lack of trust of the informed consent process and of researchers because they have little confidence in the researchers’ honesty or reliability. The informed consent process involves informing participants of risks and benefits and facilitating intentions to participate in studies. The lack of explanation of the informed consent with African American study participants has profoundly influenced their unwillingness to participate in research studies. African Americans have consistently expressed concerns about researchers who make statements to persuade them to participate in research then fail to keep their word about how the study was conducted resulting in a lack of trust (Corbie-Smith, Thomas, Williams, & Moody- Ayers, 1999). The purpose of this article is to discuss the historical events influencing the lack of trust of African Americans as participants in research studies, the lack of understanding and trust of the informed consent process, the application of essential conditions that must be fulfilled in the informed consent process, a set of concepts to stimulate an increased understanding of how to gain trust with African Americans, and recommendations to improve recruitment of African Americans as research participants.


Original Citation: Earl, Catherine E., and Pamela J. Penney. "The Significance of Trust in the Research Consent Process With African Americans." Western Journal of Nursing Research 23, no. 7 (2001): 753-762.