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Open Access Research article

The Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, a longitudinal cohort study on health disparities in Puerto Rican adults: challenges and opportunities

Katherine L Tucker12*, Josiemer Mattei13, Sabrina E Noel13, Bridgette M Collado1, Jackie Mendez1, Jason Nelson4, John Griffith4, Jose M Ordovas13 and Luis M Falcon2

Author Affiliations

1 USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

2 Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

3 Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

4 Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:107  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-107

Published: 1 March 2010

Abstract

Background

The Boston Puerto Rican Health Study is an ongoing longitudinal cohort study designed to examine the role of psychosocial stress on presence and development of allostatic load and health outcomes in Puerto Ricans, and potential modification by nutritional status, genetic variation, and social support.

Methods

Self-identified Puerto Ricans, aged 45-75 years and residing in the Boston, MA metro area, were recruited through door-to-door enumeration and community approaches. Participants completed a comprehensive set of questionnaires and tests. Blood, urine and salivary samples were extracted for biomarker and genetic analysis. Measurements are repeated at a two-year follow-up.

Results

A total of 1500 eligible participants completed baseline measurements, with nearly 80% two-year follow-up retention. The majority of the cohort is female (70%), and many have less than 8th grade education (48%), and fall below the poverty level (59%). Baseline prevalence of health conditions is high for this age range: considerable physical (26%) and cognitive (7%) impairment, obesity (57%), type 2 diabetes (40%), hypertension (69%), arthritis (50%) and depressive symptomatology (60%).

Conclusions

The enrollment of minority groups presents unique challenges. This report highlights approaches to working with difficult to reach populations, and describes some of the health issues and needs of Puerto Rican older adults. These results may inform future studies and interventions aiming to improve the health of this and similar communities.