Using community-based geographical information system (GIS) to recruit older Asian Americans in an Alzheimer's disease study

Haeok Lee, Hoehun Ha, Sejung Yim, Hyun Sik Yang, Veronica Lee, Eunju Hong, Tiffany W. Chow, Van Ta Park, Li San Wang, Gyungah Jun, Yun Beom Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective This study aims to show the usefulness of incorporating a community-based geographical information system (GIS) in recruiting research participants for the Asian Cohort for Alzheimer's Disease (ACAD) study for using the subgroup of Korean American (KA) older adults. The ACAD study is the first large study in the USA and Canada focusing on the recruitment of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese older adults to address the issues of under-representation of Asian Americans in clinical research. Methods To promote clinical research participation of racial/ethnic minority older adults with and without dementia, we used GIS by collaborating with community members to delineate boundaries for geographical clusters and enclaves of church and senior networks, and KA serving ethnic clinics. In addition, we used socioeconomic data identified as recruitment factors unique to KA older adults which was analysed for developing recruitment strategies. Results GIS maps show a visualisation of the heterogeneity of the sociodemographic characteristics and the resources of faith-based organisations and KA serving local clinics. We addressed these factors that disproportionately affect participation in clinical research and successfully recruited the intended participants (N=60) in the proposed period. Discussion Using GIS maps to locate KA provided innovative inroads to successful research outreach efforts for a pilot study that may be expanded to other underserved populations across the USA in the future. We will use this tool subsequently on a large-scale clinical genetic epidemiology study. Policy implication This approach responds to the call from the National Institute on Aging to develop strategies to improve the health status of older adults in diverse populations. Our study will offer a practical guidance to health researchers and policymakers in identifying understudied and hard-to-reach specific Asian American populations for clinical studies or initiatives. This would further contribute in reducing the health and research disparity gaps among older minority populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere072761
JournalBMJ open
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2023


  • Aged
  • Dementia
  • Health Equity
  • Patient Participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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