Dane County

Voices Heard

Voices heard


The Voices Heard research project is learning about barriers to research participation by members of underrepresented groups whose health is less well understood by researchers and doctors, specifically African American, American Indian, Caucasian, and Latino/a individuals. A biomarker is a measurement obtained from biological material obtained from a person.  The most common sources of biomarker information include saliva, blood or tissue. Researchers often gather information about health status or health problems from biomarkers like saliva and blood. This Voices Heard team is ask what people think and feel about participating in research studies that  collect biomarker information, including biomarkers necessary to improve medical diagnosis and  treatment of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, heart diseases, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The project data is gathered though private, one hour interviews with representatives of different ethnic/racial groups in Wisconsin. Participants are asked to share their thoughts and feelings about research participation, and how researchers can best approach people about participation in biomarker research.

The study findings will be used to help researchers design culturally acceptable studies, and to inform the development of culturally tailored educational materials. The activities in whole are designed to bring visibility to and increase participation of minority and medically underserved individuals in biomarker studies.


The study participants are from tribal, immigrant and minority populations since individuals from these groups bear a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and disability. The failure to engage such groups in biomarker research actually increases health disparity gaps by failing to identify the causes of risk differences and mediating/moderating effects of environmental, socioeconomic and behavioral variables on health outcomes.


The current participant total is 158 individuals. All data has been collected and is in analysis. Researchers hope to be completed by the end of January 2014.

For more information, please contact Dorothy Farrar-Edwards at dfedwards@education.wisc.edu.