The selection of the appropriate research participants is critical to the success of any clinical trial. Regrettably, the majority of clinical trials done are severely lacking in diversity. All too frequently, cultural and genetic factors unique to Asians, African-Americans, Latino-Americans, and other ethnic communities can contribute to differences in treatment responses and risks of adverse events.
Inadequate clinical trial representations of all populations can therefore leave underrepresented groups vulnerable due to the lack of subgroup-specific data. This disparity in diversity can lead to poor drug development and increase minority health inequities; however, there are ways to close this diversity gap.
Three Ways to Close the Diversity Gap
1. Educate Staff About Importance of Diversity in Trials
The importance of diversity in clinical trials guarantees that they are being conducted properly and strategically. It’s important to learn more about the significant unmet needs of patients who could benefit from a therapy or medicine. If we know, for example, that a health problem would affect a diverse patient community in terms of “race” and ethnicity, we should plan ahead of time to ensure that those patients are equally included in the recruiting and selection process.
2. Build Partnerships
Engaging patients is a mission in which we are not only collaborating with various groups, advocacy organizations, and patients, but also building a method in which patients feel like they are a part of our scientific study from start to finish. A clinical researcher’s job entails analyzing real-world and secondary data to better understand disease and treatment trends, track patients’ healthcare journeys, and find strategies to demonstrate its worth in improving health outcomes. The idea is to have a varied group of people at the table in order to come up with solid and relevant solutions.
You learn to value patient, advocate, and expert collaboration. You will learn how to form relationships and engage in discourse from a variety of viewpoints. So that when it comes to performing research at various stages of the drug development process, you already have those partnerships in place and can use them to improve your knowledge and influence.
3. Start at a Micro-Level
Using more community-based routes that are congruent with how people may be familiar with acquiring information, such as barber shops, beauty parlors, or community centers, to contact and deliver information to possible study volunteers is an important tactic. Non-traditional outreach tactics not only help create valued relationships, it also provides essential information about the concerns of the community as it relates to participation in clinical trials. Many in the community have difficulty participating in trials because of the historic and unethical Tuskegee Syphilis Study so of course, building trust in these communities is an important factor as well.
Minority involvement in clinical trials should be a primary focus for the entire health-care system. Participating in the aforementioned measures will help us develop medications more effectively, reduce minority health disparities, and improve overall public health. However, in order to reduce the diversity gap, more businesses and government agencies must support programs like these and be more empathic to the concerns of the minority communities.
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Bodicoat, D. H., Routen, A. C., Willis, A., Ekezie, W., Gillies, C., Lawson, C., Yates, T., Zaccardi, F., Davies, M. J., & Khunti, K. (2021). Promoting inclusion in clinical trials—a rapid review of the literature and Recommendations for action. Trials, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-021-05849-7
Buckman, P. (2022, May 11). Council post: Bridging the gap: Why clinical trials have a diversity problem and how to fix it. Forbes. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2022/05/10/bridging-the-gap-why-clinical-trials-have-a-diversity-problem-and-how-to-fix-it/?sh=2b074b4a5078
Janssen Oncology. (2021, December 16). Working together to close the diversity gap in clinical trials: Industry and researcher perspectives. STAT. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://www.statnews.com/sponsor/2021/12/06/working-together-to-close-the-diversity-gap-in-clinical-trials-industry-and-researcher-perspectives/