January 27, 2022

Research Article: “Development of a Web Tool to Increase Research Literacy in Underserved Populations Through Public Library Partnerships”

The article linked to below was recently published by PLOS One.


Development of a Web Tool to Increase Research Literacy in Underserved Populations Through Public Library Partnerships


Catherine A. O’Brian
Northwestern University

Laura Tom
Q. Eileen Wafford
Shenita Mack
Samuel R. Mendez
Magdalena Nava
Rabih Dahdouh
Rachelle Paul-Brutus
Kathryn H. Carpenter
Barbara Kern
Kristi L. Holmes


PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246098
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0246098



Inadequate diversity in clinical trials is widely recognized as a significant contributing factor to health disparities experienced by racial/ethnic minorities and other diverse populations in the US. To address this in a scalable way, we sought to develop a web tool that could help enhance underserved minority participation in clinical research.


We used our research literacy support flashcard tool as the initial prototype for human-centered design and usability testing of the web tool Health for All in public library settings. After forming partnerships with leadership from Chicago Public Libraries (CPL), local medical libraries, and the Chicago Department of Public Health, we conducted seven iterative design sessions with focus groups of library patrons and library staff from six CPL branches serving underserved communities followed by two rounds of usability testing and website modification.


Based on the qualitative research findings from Design Sessions 1–7, we enacted the design decision of a website that was a hybrid of fact-filled and vignette (personal stories) paper prototypes divided into 4 modules (trust, diversity, healthy volunteers, pros/cons), each with their own outcome metrics. The website was thus constructed, and navigation issues identified in two rounds of usability testing by library patrons were addressed through further website modification, followed by the launch of a beta version of a hybridized single-scrolling and guided module prototype to allow further development with website analytics.


We report the development of Health for All, a website designed to enhance racial/ethnic minority participation in clinical trials by imparting research literacy, mitigating distrust engendered by longstanding racism and discrimination, and providing connections to clinical trials recruiting participants.

Direct to Full Text Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.