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Health Services Administration Professor Creates Children’s Book to Demystify Research

Health Services Administration Professor Creates Children’s Book to Demystify Research

Buffalo, New York — February 1, 2018 — In an effort to recruit more research participants from historically marginalized populations, a children’s activity book emerged as an innovative resource.

Renee Cadzow, assistant professor of Health Services Administration and director of the Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport, and Health at D’Youville, collaborated with scholars and professionals through the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute to create “Sofia Learns About Research,” a children’s story peppered with activities and primed for coloring.

“Through conversations with community members, school nurses, and other key stakeholders, we learned that many people are skeptical of researchers and often distrustful of their intentions,” said Cadzow. “When they’re asked, they’re put off a little bit because there’s an awful history in terms of abuses of people who don’t have a full understanding of what they’re getting into.”

The book follows Sofia, her father, and her little brother on a trip to the doctor’s office to treat Sofia’s asthma. Sofia’s doctor introduces her family to a scientist who explains the importance and impact of research, as well as what it means to be a participant. Activity pages are dispersed throughout the book, chunking the content into digestible bits of narrative and engaging readers in a maze, word search, crossword puzzle, and decodable message, to name a few.

After the book’s publication in October 2017, Cadzow introduced it to Buffalo Public Schools students at the Gloria Parks Community Center.

“Before reading the book and doing the activities, one out of 11 fourth graders said they would be interested in being in a research study,” said Cadzow. “After reading the book with an afterschool employee and doing some activities, five out of 11 said they would be interested in being in a research study. We found this pretty encouraging.”

The International Institute has begun translating the book into Spanish and Arabic, two of the most common languages spoken among immigrants and refugees in the area. “The views regarding medical research vary among different groups of people, especially the foreign born,” said May Shogan, director of international exchanges and education programs at the International Institute of Buffalo

“Though there are many articles, brochures, and educational materials about this topic, it is all in English and is not helpful to a big population of refugees and immigrants, especially those who do not speak English. After many conversations and surveys about this topic with foreign-born individuals, a clear lack of interest was noticed among members of this population due to fear, lack of information, and trust issues.”

“The Sofia book helps bring this information to members of this population in a simplified, animated, and engaging way,” added Shogan. “Most of all, it’s in a culturally sensitive and translated format that will bring awareness to the importance of research and participation in it to refugees and immigrants of all ages.”

Other contributors to the book include: Alexandra Marrone, Teresa Quattrin, Isabella Bannerman, and Tia Canonico.


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