Escobedo, a third-year medical student at the U-M Medical School, studied 14 residents ages 60-91 in Chicago. He interviewed them and gave them a questionnaire written in Spanish.
Many participants said they would be willing to be a part of studies about topics such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia.
One of the main hurdles to getting them to participate, Escobedo says, was getting information to Hispanic people that studies are taking place. While Hispanics represent some 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for just 1 percent of clinical trial participation nationally, according to the Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation. Of the 14 participants in the UMHS study, 10 had heard about clinical research studies, and 50 percent of those who had heard about studies had participated.
"We found that they often just don't know about research studies that need participants," Escobedo says. "When they actually know about clinical research, many Hispanic people are willing to participate."
He recalls that some members of the group were reluctant to participate at first, but they grew more interested when Escobedo offered them health screenings for blood pressure and diabetes.
One finding that surprised Escobedo was that none of the participants expressed concern about the ethnic background of the researcher. "They didn't care, as long as the person spoke Spanish," he said.