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Eighteen recommendations to achieve racial representation in food allergy research

Published: October 11, 2022

There are over 32 million individuals with food allergy in the United States. Historically, racial and ethnic minority patients have been underrepresented in food allergy research despite epidemiological research finding that they have a disproportionately higher burden of disease.  Dr. Lucy Bilaver, PhD and others from the Center for Food Allergy & Asthma Research at Northwestern University used a modified Delphi study to identify 18 recommendations for food allergy researchers to consider how they may engage and recruit patients from underrepresented groups so that their research may yield more representative findings.

In a recent issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, the modified Delphi study of Bilaver et al included a literature review to identify barriers to engaging with racially underrepresented populations and recommendations for improving racial representation in research. In the second phase of the study, they assembled the expertise of 21 food allergy clinicians, advocacy leaders, community-engaged researchers, and patients who were from racially underrepresented backgrounds to inform the researchers through focus groups and panel discussions about the patients’ experiences with food allergy and attitudes toward food allergy research. In the final phase of the study, Bilaver et al compiled all the recommendations and formatted them into an online survey for the participants to establish consensus for the final recommendations.

The 18 final recommendations fell under the categories of 1) community partnerships, which engage research participants as co-owners of the research process, 2) intentional engagement and messaging for improved communication between researchers and participants, 3) recruitment with inclusive strategies, and 4) dissemination of research results. The recommendations are practical for multiple stakeholders engaged in food allergy research including community-engaged and academic researchers.

The article lists each recommendation along with some quotes to consider. For example, one of the recommendations is “Establish relationships with community health organizations and local federally qualified health centers,” and a food allergy patient shared “I would participate in more research if I knew about it, but I don’t always, like, I don’t sit around on once a month searching.”

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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