The Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved has accepted a new study examining health disparities of Appalachian residents. It was conducted by public health professionals from Penn State College of Medicine, Ohio State University, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and the University of Kentucky.

Eugene Lengerich and Betsy Aumiller helped author “Predictors of Willingness to Participate in Biospecimen Donation and Biobanking among Appalachian Adults.” The goal of this research is to improve biomedical research for this population.

The rural population of the Appalachian region experience higher rates of cancer but are underrepresented in disease-related research. Many cancer prevention tactics for this area focus on changing behaviors, but their research examined biological approaches.

“We were surprised to see the overwhelming willingness of Appalachian residents to donate biospecimens for research purposes,” said Lengerich, associate director of health disparities and engagement at Penn State Cancer Institute.

The paper examined 493 participants in a randomized, multi-state study to reduce cancer risk among adult residents of Appalachia. Participants responded about their willingness to donate samples of blood, saliva and/or tissue, and whether they would agree to have these biospecimens stored in order to help researchers study conditions such as cancer, heart disease and obesity. Of those surveyed, 75 percent were willing to have all three collected, and 61 percent expressed a willingness to have their samples banked. An overwhelming majority—97 percent—said their biospecimens could be used for genetic research.

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