The Added Value of Team Member Diversity to Research in Underserved Populations



In this chapter we describe an example of the added value demographic diversity provides in the conceptualization, design, and conduct of epidemiologic research aimed at clarifying cancer and other chronic disease risks among underserved populations. We report on the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), an ongoing prospective study tracking nearly 86,000 adults seeking to identify and quantify risk factors for cancer and other illnesses and provide information useful toward amelioration of health disparities. Two-thirds of cohort members are African American, and the majority of both black and white participants are generally low-income residents of rural as well as urban areas of the southeastern United States. Herein we outline the goals of the SCCS, describe the diversity of the cohort as well as the scientific research team and collaborating federally qualified community health centers (CHCs), and present summary statistics indicating that several basic measures of health status vary by demographic status. We conclude by presenting lessons learned from conducting research in medically underserved populations.


Cancer Disparities Community health centers Risk factors African Americans Socioeconomic status Urban/rural Diversity Epidemiology Cohort studies 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Meharry Medical CollegeNashvilleUSA

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