Still too few minority participants in US clinical trials, study finds

March 21, 2014
Still too few minority participants in U.S. clinical trials, study finds
More emphasis must be placed on recruiting minorities for research, investigators say.

(HealthDay)—It's been 20 years since Congress required that research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) include minorities, but non-whites still account for less than 5 percent of clinical trial participants, according to a new report.

The study from University of California, Davis, Comprehensive Cancer Center also revealed that less than 2 percent of clinical cancer studies focus on people of non-white races or ethnic groups.

The findings, published online March 18 in Cancer, revealed that although black people have the highest rates of cancer, Hispanics and blacks have a participation rate of just 1.3 percent in .

"The proportion of in clinical research remains very low and is not representative of the U.S. population with cancer. What is needed is deliberate effort. Minorities are not hard to reach. They are hardly reached," study leader Moon Chen, the 's associate director for cancer control, said in a UC Davis news release.

"Whatever happens in the laboratory or in the clinic needs to be applied to solving real-world problems, and those relate to the disproportionate effects of cancer and other diseases on racial and ethnic minorities," Chen added.

In conducting the study, the researchers reviewed all registered clinical trials sponsored by the NIH in January 2013 to find out how often information on minorities was reported or examined.

The researchers counted a total of about 10,000 clinical trials funded by the NIH. Of these studies, only about 150 focused on a particular ethnic or minority population. This amounts to less than 2 percent of all clinical trials, the authors pointed out.

Summaries on research published between January and March 2013 were also analyzed to determine how often minority participation in clinical trials was specifically discussed. Of the 42 studies the team identified, only five had reports that specifically examined participation levels by race and ethnicity.

Previous studies focused on minorities, however, have provided valuable insight into treatment for certain types of cancer, the researchers explained. Ethnic and geographic differences could affect how cancer progresses as well as how patients respond to various treatments.

"In lung cancer, it opened our eyes," said the study's co-author, Karen Kelly, associate director for clinical research at the UC Davis cancer center. "Clinical trials in diverse populations can help us understand the biology of disease, and why a drug may produce a higher response rate and higher toxicity in one group than in another," Kelly said in the news release.

The study authors cautioned that cancer is a growing burden in states with diverse populations, such as in California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas. They also noted that clinical trials are essential to the development of new cancer drugs and treatments. Participation in these studies, the researchers added, can improve survival rates for people with certain types of tumors.

Cost, transportation issues and cultural differences could prevent minorities from participating in clinical trials, the study authors suggested. However, the investigators found that minority children are well represented in -related clinical trials, with 60 percent of patients younger than age 15 enrolled, which is equal to or greater than their proportion of the population.

"The record of participation by racial/ethnic populations in pediatric clinical trials suggests that a comparable record is potentially achievable in for adults," Chen's team wrote in the report.

"The solution is not changing the attitudes of minorities but rather in ensuring access to health research. Clinical trials should be designed to include and focus on specific populations, and scientific journals should insist on appropriate representation and analyses of NIH-funded research by race and ethnicity," the authors concluded.

Explore further: Women and minorities face barriers to clinical trials

More information: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on the role of minorities in clinical trials.

Related Stories

Women and minorities face barriers to clinical trials

June 1, 2012
Physicians have great influence over whether minorities and women participate in cancer clinical trials, according to a new literature review.

Some minorities believe they are less likely to get cancer compared to whites, study shows

April 17, 2013
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues analyzed national data to investigate the differences in cancer prevention beliefs by race and ethnicity. They found that minorities, including blacks, Asians and Hispanics, ...

Income affects oncology clinical trial participation

January 16, 2013
(HealthDay)—Oncology patients with lower income, even older patients with access to Medicare, are significantly less likely to participate in clinical trials, according to research published online Jan. 7 in the Journal ...

Black patients received less clinical trial information than white patients

October 29, 2012
A study comparing how physicians discuss clinical trials during clinical interactions with black patients versus white patients further confirms racial disparities in the quality of communication between physicians and patients.

Psychoeducational intervention changes patient attitudes on clinical trials participation

June 13, 2012
Seeking ways to change cancer patients' perceptions and negative attitudes towards clinical trials participation, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center conducted a study offering two different kinds of intervention to two ...

Participation in clinical trials high among gay, lesbian and bisexual cancer survivors

October 30, 2012
Cancer survivors who self-identified as being lesbian, gay or bisexual were more than twice as likely as heterosexual cancer survivors to have participated in cancer clinical trials, according to data from a small study presented ...

Recommended for you

Presurgical targeted therapy delays relapse of high-risk stage 3 melanoma

January 17, 2018
A pair of targeted therapies given before and after surgery for melanoma produced at least a six-fold increase in time to progression compared to standard-of-care surgery for patients with stage 3 disease, researchers at ...

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Dulling cancer therapy's double-edged sword

January 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered that killing cancer cells can actually have the unintended effect of fueling the proliferation of residual, living cancer cells, ultimately leading to aggressive tumor progression.

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...


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.