The legacy of the tuskegee syphilis study: Assessing its impact on willingness to participate in biomedical studies

Ralph V. Katz, B. Lee Green, Nancy R. Kressin, S. Stephen Kegeles, Min Qi Wang, Sherman A. James, Stefanie L. Russell, Cristina Claudio, Jan M. McCallum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The phrase, legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, is sometimes used to denote the belief that Blacks are more reluctant than Whites to participate in biomedical research studies because of the infamous study of syphilis in men run by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932-72. This paper is the first to attempt to assess directly the accuracy of this belief within a multi-city, multi-racial, large-scale, detailed random survey. We administered the Tuskegee Legacy Project (TLP) Questionnaire to 826 Blacks and non-Hispanic White adults in three U.S. cities. While Blacks had higher levels of general awareness of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, there was no association between either awareness or detailed knowledge of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and willingness to participate in biomedical research, either for Blacks or Whites observed in our survey. While this study refutes the notion that there is a direct connection between detailed knowledge of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and willingness to participate in biomedical research, it does not assess the broader question of whether and how historical events influence people's willingness to participate in research. Future studies should explore this.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1180
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

Keywords

  • Bioethics
  • Health disparities
  • Legacy of the tuskegee syphilis study
  • Minority participation in research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Katz, R. V., Green, B. L., Kressin, N. R., Kegeles, S. S., Wang, M. Q., James, S. A., Russell, S. L., Claudio, C., & McCallum, J. M. (2008). The legacy of the tuskegee syphilis study: Assessing its impact on willingness to participate in biomedical studies. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 19(4), 1168-1180. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.0.0067