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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Improving Health Research on Small Populations: A Workshop

An ad hoc steering committee will organize a one and a half day public workshop sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, to discuss issues of conducting research on small, underrepresented population subgroups in health research. There continue to be communities that are often difficult to include in research studies because of the size, dispersion, and/or accessibility of the subpopulation, and the workshop will consider ways of addressing the challenges of research and interventions with small population groups, including alternative study designs, innovative methodologies, and innovative statistical techniques.

Specifically, the workshop will address approaches for identification, recruitment, and retention strategies for maximizing the sample sizes of small groups in intervention and research studies; epidemiological design and analytics approaches for small samples; and intervention design and analytic approaches for subpopulations. Background papers will be commissioned and distributed in advance of the workshop. A proceedings of the workshop and a brief proceedings of a workshop will be prepared by a rapporteur and reviewed according to institutional policy. Presentation materials will be posted on the Internet.

This project is a collaboration between the Committee on National Statistics in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) and the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities (NIMHD), and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) of the National Institutes of Health are co-sponsors of this workshop. Support for this workshop was also provided, in part, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Thursday, January 18 - Friday, January 19, 2018




National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20418
Lecture Room 

Small is Essential: Importance of Subpopulation Research in Cancer ControlAmerican Journal of Public Health (2015).
What is a Small Population?
Organization of the Workshop

Ellen K. Cromley, Using Geospatial Methods with Other Health and Environmental Data to Identify Populations  
Kelly J. Devers, The Feasibility of Using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Other Electronic Health Data for Research on Small Populations
Marc N. Elliott, Probability Sampling Methods for Small Populations
Christopher S. Fowler, The Geography of Small Populations: Issues in Defining an Appropriate Geographic Context
Krista J. Gile, Discussion: Techniques to Identify and Find Small Populations
Scarlett Lin Gomez, Data Issues in Studying Small Populations: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Case Study
Rick H. Hoyle, Design and Analysis Considerations in Research with Small Samples
Amy L. Kilbourne, Designs for Dissemination and Implementation Research for Small Populations
Diane M. Korngiebel, Addressing the Challenges of Research with Small Populations
Sunghee Lee et al., Two Applications of Respondent Driven Sampling: Ethnic Minorities and Illicit Substance Users
Thomas A. Louis, Bayesian Methods for Small Population Analysis
Christine Lu, Quasi-experimental Designs with Application to Small Populations
Graham A. Colditz (Chair), School of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis 
James Allen, Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus
C. Graham Kalton, Westat
Janice C. Probst, Department of Health Services Policy and Management, University of South Carolina 
Lance A. Waller, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University 


Member Bios

Nancy Kirkendall, Study Director
Jordyn White, Program Officer
Anthony Mann, Program Associate


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