Because the effects of epigenetic (gene-environment interaction) changes have been associated with numerous adverse health states, the study of epigenetic measures provides exciting research opportunities for biobehavioral scientists. However, recruitment for studies focusing on any aspect of genetics poses challenges. Multiple factors, including lack of knowledge regarding a research study, have been identified as barriers to recruitment. Strengthening the informed consent process through extended discussion has been found to be effective in recruiting for research studies in general, yet there is a paucity of information that focused on such a recruitment strategy for epigenetic studies. In this paper, we share our experiences with strategies to strengthen the informed consent process as well as provide samples of materials developed to heighten potential participants' understanding of epigenetics, in 4 epigenetic research studies with women from diverse backgrounds experiencing a range of health issues. The combined enrollment success rate for epigenetic studies using the process was 89% with participants representing a diverse population. We posit that carefully developed recruitment scripts provided a foundation for improving potential participants' understanding of the research project. Easy to understand illustrations of the epigenetic process provided a basis for active engagement and encouraged individual questions.
Translational research is conducted to achieve a predefined set of economic or societal goals. As a result, investment decisions on where available resources have the highest potential in achieving these goals have to be made. In this paper, we first describe how multicriteria decision analysis can assist in defining the decision context and in ensuring that all relevant aspects of the decision problem are incorporated in the decision making process. We then present the results of a case study to support priority setting in a translational research consortium aimed at reducing the burden of disease of type 2 diabetes. During problem structuring, we identified four research alternatives (primary, secondary, tertiary microvascular, and tertiary macrovascular prevention) and a set of six decision criteria. Scoring of these alternatives against the criteria was done using a combination of expert judgement and previously published data. Lastly, decision analysis was performed using stochastic multicriteria acceptability analysis, which allows for the combined use of numerical and ordinal data. We found that the development of novel techniques applied in secondary prevention would be a poor investment of research funds. The ranking of the remaining alternatives was however strongly dependent on the decision maker's preferences for certain criteria.