The low rate of participation in clinical trials among the African American patient community is a well-known and continuing problem.
The low rate of participation in clinical trials among the African American patient community is a well-known and continuing problem. Several studies have been conducted to determine the causes of this phenomenon, including one, the results of which were published in the January 2008 Family Medicine, that examined several contributing factors. The authors stated that “there continues to be a lack of African American representation in research trials,” citing several studies that have shown that “African American participants comprise only 6% of cancer clinical trials, and low African American participation is also seen within other types of trials.” This lack of representation and participation has negatively affected “the ability of researchers to generalize data from clinical trials to African Americans and may ultimately contribute to the presence of health disparities in this population.”
The authors identify several possible reasons for the difficulties investigators face when trying to recruit African Americans for clinical trials, including a lack of minority investigators and mistrust of the medical establishment, which the authors describe as “well established barriers to participation.” Other contributing factors identified by the authors include “socioeconomic status, ease of participation, physician encouragement, and the intervention being studied.”
Patients’ and providers’ lack of knowledge about trials specifically designed to study conditions and outcomes in African Americans also contributes to recruiting difficulties. However, the availability of well-organized online clinical trial databases makes it easier than ever for interested physicians and patients to learn about trials that are recruiting patients. There are currently listed on ClinicalTrials.gov alone dozens of clinical trials investigating a wide range of conditions, conducted in a variety of formats at sites throughout the country, including the following:
Click here to access the complete list of more than 200 trials organized by condition, intervention type, cohort size, trial phase, and start and completion dates.
Project IMPACT (Increase Minority Participation and Awareness in Clinical Trials)
A National Medical Association project designed to “increase awareness, knowledge and participation of African American physicians and consumers in all aspects of biomedical research and clinical trials.”