Clinical trials that are representative of all patients are essential to ensure that treatments are effective for everyone. Drugs work differently for each person based on different factors. Including diverse patient populations in clinical trials makes sure these factors are accounted for. But the perception that recruiting white patients is easier, less time-consuming and more cost-efficient than recruiting underrepresented or underserved patients contributes to health disparities seen today.
We are gastroenterology researchers at Morehouse School of Medicine who run clinical trials and study ways to improve participant diversity. Identifying and addressing the barriers to enrolling in research that patients face can not only increase participation, but can also lead to better patient care.
Clinical trials have specific eligibility criteria, and may require a number of study-related visits to the hospital where they’re conducted. But underserved and underrepresented populations often aren’t seen in practices that recruit patients for clinical trials.
Typically, clinical trials are designed by research-focused physicians working in urban medical centers. The majority of Black and Hispanic patients have limited access to the health care system as a whole, and the centers that serve them often do not have the research infrastructure or resources to run clinical trials.
Black patients account for 75% of IBD cases at Morehouse School of Medicine. Many of our current patients were either previously misdiagnosed or only treated for their symptoms in the emergency room without further investigation. This has led to many of our patients getting diagnosed with…