Women and minorities face barriers to clinical trials

June 1, 2012 By Laura Kennedy, Health Behavior News Service

Physicians have great influence over whether minorities and women participate in cancer clinical trials, according to a new literature review.

Women and minorities experience disproportionately high rates of cancer in the United States, yet they are typically under-represented in clinical trials, according to the review in the latest issue of Ethnicity & Disease. Reversing this trend is an important goal of the National Cancer Institute, because study participation is associated with increased survival time and appears to provide both psychological and emotional benefits.

In the report, author Geri L. Schmotzer, Ph.D., of New Mexico State University’s School of Nursing reviewed 22 studies focusing on clinical trial participation and recruitment in under-represented groups including , ethnic and racial minorities, elderly and/or rural , and individuals of low socioeconomic status. She discovered that there are more barriers to participation, both related to the patients themselves and to their physicians, than facilitators.

Among the patient-related barriers for women and minority patients was a reported mistrust of medical researchers and their sponsoring agencies. Other significant barriers include logistical issues such as the time, transportation and expense required for extra study-related clinic visits. “If there were times other than 8 to 5 that people could go to the office and be a part of a research study, that would encourage more participation,” said Schmotzer.

“We need to be more cognizant of the importance of practical barriers and find ways to address and reduce them,” agrees David S. Wendler, Ph.D., an expert on research ethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. “These likely are more significant than the often-discussed issues of trust and historic abuses.”

Among the reasons offered by physicians for not recruiting more patients for was a lack of awareness about available trials. A more troubling finding was that many physicians engage in a form of “triage,” in which they offer study participation to some patients but not to others. They may base this selection process — perhaps unintentionally — on their beliefs regarding the patient’s preferences, anticipated logistical problems, or assumptions about the patient’s ability to understand or comply with study requirements.

“A lot of times the physician makes the decision for the patient prior to even asking the patient,” says Schmotzer. “The failure of a physician to offer a trial due to prior patient triage is inappropriate,” she states in the report.

These findings suggest that more research is needed to understand why may refrain from offering research participation to women and minorities.

Explore further: Patient navigators might reduce disparities in cancer care

More information: Schmotzer, G. 2012. Barriers and facilitators to participation of minorities in clinical trials Ethnicity & Disease, Volume 22, Spring 2012

Related Stories

Patient navigators might reduce disparities in cancer care

August 17, 2011
Past research shows that minorities suffer higher rates of advanced cancer and deaths from all types of cancer compared to whites. According to an article in the August issue of Cancer, the role of “patient navigator” ...

Breast cancer patients more satisfied when specialists share care management

December 15, 2011
Patients with breast cancer report greater satisfaction with care when their cancer doctor co-manages their care with other specialists. However, some specialists are more likely than others to share decision-making with ...

Training more black physicians to do colonoscopies could save lives

March 16, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Nobody likes to talk about a colonoscopy, much less get one. Sure, there’s the “ick” factor. But for certain segments of the population, including African Americans and other medically underserved ...

Choosing the best breast cancer treatment option

February 20, 2012
According to published reports from the Institute of Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine, roughly one-third of early-stage breast cancer patients undergo mastectomy even though breast conservation surgery with ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.