Clinical trial diversity is important because, historically, minority populations have been underrepresented in clinical trial participation. There are several reasons why this has happened. These reasons include language barriers, lack of awareness and trust, and fear of cost and health insurance.
Recent trial data has revealed an alarming trend. African Americans make up around 5% of participants, while Hispanic and Latino individuals account for only 1%. This discrepancy highlights an urgent need to address the unequal representation of certain ethnic groups in clinical trials.
Progress has been made with the Consolidated Appropriations Act. This legislation aims to increase clinical trial diversity. Despite this, the medical community, including research sites and clinical trial sponsors, still emphasize the importance of diversity.
So why is clinical trial diversity so important? Continue reading to find out more.
Treatment Reactions Vary
If you’ve ever had a reaction to a medication, and then told a friend who says they’ve never experienced a reaction to that same medication, you can relate to this. Treatments often exhibits different reactions in different people. Factors that may contribute to different reactions include gender, weight, age, race, and ethnicity among others.
The bottom line – the way your body reacts to something is likely not the same as your friend.
Reasons for Underrepresentation
There are several reasons that diversity has been lacking in clinical trials. The most unfortunate reason is lack of awareness. A study done by the National Institutes of Health reported that 75% of patients they surveyed said that they would participate in a clinical trial if they had known it was possible. In many cases, physicians are not providing patients with clinical trial information or discussing participation as an option.
Other patients that are aware of clinical trials may have language barriers, or socioeconomic factors contributing to their inability to participate. Many research sites and study sponsors provide transportation, weekend study visits, and other resources to overcome this issue. These include study consents and appointments in the patient’s native language when possible.
Why Diversity is Critical
As we mentioned, treatment reactions vary from person to person. Let’s use a condition like diabetes as an example. We know that diabetes often affects those who are overweight, however Hispanics are generally at a higher risk for this condition.
We cannot determine real-life outcomes if Hispanics are not included in clinical trials that evaluate potential medications. To understand how a medication will affect the target audience, those individuals must be included in the trials.
If you are reading this blog, you are already a part of the small (but growing) population that is aware of clinical trial opportunities. So, help spread the word to family, friends, and neighbors.
We need participants of all backgrounds to help advance medicine and improve treatment options. So take a minute to browse through trial opportunities in your area and share the MyLocalStudy.com link with those you know. Together we can make a difference!
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