The significant impact of education, poverty, and race on Internet-based research participant engagement

Sarah M. Hartz, Tiffany Quan, Abiye Ibiebele, Sherri L. Fisher, Emily Olfson, Patricia Salyer, Laura J. Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose:Internet-based technologies are increasingly being used for research studies. However, it is not known whether Internet-based approaches will effectively engage participants from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.Methods:A total of 967 participants were recruited and offered genetic ancestry results. We evaluated viewing Internet-based genetic ancestry results among participants who expressed high interest in obtaining the results.Results:Of the participants, 64% stated that they were very or extremely interested in their genetic ancestry results. Among interested participants, individuals with a high school diploma (n = 473) viewed their results 19% of the time relative to 4% of the 145 participants without a diploma (P < 0.0001). Similarly, 22% of participants with household income above the federal poverty level (n = 286) viewed their results relative to 10% of the 314 participants living below the federal poverty level (P < 0.0001). Among interested participants both with a high school degree and living above the poverty level, self-identified Caucasians were more likely to view results than self-identified African Americans (P < 0.0001), and females were more likely to view results than males (P = 0.0007).Conclusion:In an underserved population, engagement in Internet-based research was low despite high reported interest. This suggests that explicit strategies should be developed to increase diversity in Internet-based research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-243
Number of pages4
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


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