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The legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: assessing its impact on willingness to participate in biomedical studies.
Katz RV, Green BL, Kressin NR, Kegeles SS, Wang MQ, James SA, Russell SL, Claudio C, McCallum JM. 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. 2008 Nov 1; 19(4):1168-80.
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.