Clinical trials are critical to advancing lifesaving medications and treatments. But the U.S. is falling woefully short in making sure that these trials represent the broader population, as some researchers don’t even record the racial and ethnic makeup of the people in their trials.
Improving diversity in clinical trials is one of the most important steps needed to achieve health equity. The reasons for this underrepresentation are myriad and complex. Obstacles range from individuals not having physical access to clinical trial sites, to general distrust of the medical institutions running the research, to a lack of proper community outreach. How can researchers overcome these challenges and champion the importance of increasing diversity in clinical trials to the medical community at large?
In this episode, we speak with STAT cancer reporter Angus Chen, who recently went to Richmond, Va., to report on the efforts of physician Robert Winn, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, who connects with the local community, fosters relationships, and educates folk about clinical trials. Jonathan Jackson, the executive director of the Community Access, Recruitment, and Engagement Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, tells us about the barriers to achieving more diverse clinical trials and what needs to be done to topple them.
A transcript of this episode is available here.
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To read more on some of the topics discussed in the episode:
- Read the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s report on Improving Representation in Clinical Trials and Research
- VCU’s cancer center director vows to help repair decades of broken trust in health care
And check out some of STAT’s coverage on the topic:
- Many Black cancer patients say they aren’t offered the chance at clinical trials, survey finds
- National Academies report cites ‘urgent’ need to recruit more diverse participants for clinical trials
- ‘A massive gap in information’: Most vaccine clinical trials fail to report data on participants’ ethnicity or race
- Virtual event: Increasing diversity in clinical trials
This podcast was made possible with support from the Commonwealth Fund.
The reporting by Angus Chen in this episode was also made possible with support from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism‘s 2022 Impact Fund for Reporting on Health Equity and Health Systems.