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Title: Human biomonitoring from an environmental justice perspective: supporting study participation of women of Turkish and Moroccan descent
Authors: Morrens, Bert
Den Hond, Elly
Schoeters, Greet
Coertjens, Dries
Colles, Ann
Baeyens, Willy
De Henauw, Stefaan
Nelen, Vera
Loots, Ilse
Issue Date: 2017
Source: ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, 16, p. 1-9 (Art N° 48)
Abstract: Background: Environmental justice research shows how socially disadvantaged groups are more exposed and more vulnerable to environmental pollution. At the same time, these groups are less represented and, thus, less visible in biomedical studies. This socioeconomic participation bias is a form of environmental injustice within research practice itself. Methods: We designed, implemented and evaluated a targeted recruitment strategy to enhance the participation of socially disadvantaged pregnant women in a human biomonitoring study in Belgium. We focused on women of Turkish and Moroccan descent and developed a setup using personal buddies that enabled information transfer about study conditions in the pre-parturition period as well as support and follow-up with questionnaires in the post-parturition period. Results: We identified four barriers to the participation of women with a vulnerable social and ethnic background which were related to psychosocial and situational factors. Lack of trust in researchers and no perceived study benefits were important personal barriers; the complex study design and difficult self-administered questionnaires were equally significant barriers. Conclusion: By investing in direct, person-to-person contact with trusted buddies and supported by practical advice about cultural and linguistic sensitivity, it was possible to increase study participation of socially disadvantaged people. Above all, this required openness and flexibility in the mind-set of researchers so that study design and procedures could be better grounded in the experiences and circumstances of underprivileged groups.
Notes: [Morrens, Bert; Coertjens, Dries; Loots, Ilse] Univ Antwerp, Fac Social Sci, Dept Sociol, Sint Jacobstr 2, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium. [Den Hond, Elly; Nelen, Vera] Prov Inst Hyg, Antwerp, Belgium. [Schoeters, Greet; Colles, Ann] Environm Hlth & Risk, Mol, Belgium. [Schoeters, Greet] Univ Antwerp, Dept Biomed Sci, Antwerp, Belgium. [Schoeters, Greet] Univ Southern Denmark, Environm Med, Odense, Denmark. [Nawrot, Tim S.] Hasselt Univ, Ctr Environm Sci, Hasselt, Belgium. [Nawrot, Tim S.] Leuven Univ, Dept Publ Hlth & Primary Care, Leuven, Belgium. [Baeyens, Willy] Vrije Univ Brussel, Analyt Environm & Geochem AMGC, Brussels, Belgium. [De Henauw, Stefaan] Univ Ghent, Dept Publ Hlth, Ghent, Belgium.
Keywords: human biomonitoring; recruitment; participation; barriers; socially disadvantaged groups; ethnic minorities; environmental justice; study design;Human biomonitoring; Recruitment; Participation; Barriers; Socially disadvantaged groups; Ethnic minorities; Environmental justice; Study design
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e-ISSN: 1476-069X
DOI: 10.1186/s12940-017-0260-2
ISI #: 000401700500002
Rights: © The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Category: A1
Type: Journal Contribution
Validations: ecoom 2018
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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