Disparities in Clinical Research

Surveys of clinical research tell a bleak tale about participation in clinical studies. Further still, surveys of diversity in study populations in the United States is more troublesome.

 

Lack of diversity in study populations means that many questions go unanswered about the benefits and risks of drugs in minorities, women, poor and the elderly—groups that are typically underrepresented throughout medical research. Additionally, different ethnic groups have different propensities toward certain diseases—Hispanic people are more likely than whites to be diagnosed with diabetes, for example—making the study of treatments for these groups even more important.

 

Enrolling the necessary clinical trial participants from any demographic can be a challenge, but there are special barriers to recruiting underrepresented groups. Minority groups often harbor a general distrust of the medical community, dating back to the infamous Tuskegee syphilis trial with African American men in the 1930s. Practicalities also stand in the way: time commitment and transportation to the study site can be particularly challenging for women and the elderly, respectively.

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