Trials Of Color

We all want equal access to medical research that includes treatment for all.

And, yes, I have seen significant efforts by scientists, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies to make this a reality.
However, have you considered why clinical trial participation rates are lower in the African American and underserved populations? Only %4.5 of African Americans have participated in clinical trials in the last 16 years.

1. There are significant knowledge gaps among these populations; lack of awareness is prevalent, and this must be factored into pre-search activities.

2. When I am out in the field, patients/survivors frequently tell me that doctors do not discuss clinical trial options with them. This contributes significantly to the enrollment knowledge/information gap. I understand that doctors may not have the time, but collaboration with health and patient advocates will help raise awareness.

3. Without a doubt, the 1951 Henrietta Lacks case comes to mind when you mention clinical trials. She was a black woman whose cancer cells gave rise to the HeLa cell line, the first immortalized human cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research.
Without Lacks’ knowledge or consent, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, took samples of her cancerous cells and gave some of that tissue to a researcher months before her death from Aggressive Cervical Cancer.

You may recall the USPHS Syphilis Study at Tuskegee in 1932, as well as Guinea pig perceptions.
There were no laws in place during these times. We now have laws and improved scientific research, as well as adequate monitoring.
There is a need for greater awareness among the underserved and African American populations. We can spread factual knowledge about clinical trials and develop treatment options whose outcomes are generalizable to all races by doing so.