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Why Diversity in Clinical Research Matters

By Lindsay Todd,
UniteNews Contributing Writer

A Healthier Future for Everyone

A complex interplay of genetics, environment, and lifestyle shapes our health. This means how our bodies respond to medication and treatment can vary significantly depending on our unique backgrounds. Clinical trials are the cornerstone of medical advancement, propelling medical knowledge forward, fostering new therapeutic discoveries, and determining the effectiveness of novel treatments. However, for far too long, clinical trials have included a narrow demographic, neglecting representation of diverse communities. However, a shift is underway to ensure participants in research studies reflect the rich tapestry of our population, better encompassing diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and genetic profiles.

This shift is critical for many reasons, including decreasing health disparities and improving the erosion of trust that occurred over time. In 2020, a study published by National Academies Press showed that 74% of US clinical trial participants were white, yet 40.2% of the US population consists of other racial backgrounds. The discrepancy between the represented clinical trial population and the general population means treatments may not be optimized for diverse needs as testing has not been completed on a representative sample. Additionally, treatments may not be equally effective or safe for the underrepresented communities not receiving testing, which further exacerbates existing health disparities. For example, according to a recent study by Tulane University, Black Americans are 54% more likely to die from heart disease than white Americans. Suppose treatments and medications for heart disease are not adequately tested in this population; the genetic and lifestyle factors of Black Americans are not represented, leaving questions as to whether the medication is effective. In addition to this, the lack of representation of diverse communities in medical research can erode trust in the medical system and discourage participation in future trials. This lack of trust can hinder scientific progress and ultimately harm communities already experiencing health disparities. This is where involvement in clinical research can offer a powerful opportunity to address patient health disparities and contribute to the positive change of rebuilding trust.

We must acknowledge medical research has been marred by instances of deception and harm inflicted upon minority communities in the past. This truth cannot be ignored and serves as a reminder of the importance of building trust through continued ethical practices. Prioritizing diverse trial enrollment and retention is paramount for the research community, ensuring ALL individuals have access to safe and effective treatments.

Today, many safeguards are in place to protect study participants’ rights and welfare.  An Institutional Review Board (IRB) must review and monitor every clinical trial under FDA regulations. Institutional Review Boards, or IRBs, review research studies to ensure they comply with applicable regulations, meet accepted ethical standards, follow institutional policies, and adequately protect research participants.

Study participation not only helps address the underrepresentation issue in research but also comes with several benefits. These benefits include but are not limited to financial compensation for time and travel spent, access to advanced treatments at no cost, and close monitoring by medical professionals. This can be a valuable resource for those facing insurance challenges or struggling to find a solution.

Diversity in clinical trials is not simply a moral imperative but a scientific necessity. The only way to be sure everyone has a voice in shaping the future of medicine is through study participation by all demographics represented in our population. Together, we can ensure that equitable representation in clinical research is achieved, and no community is left behind.

About Clinvest Research:

Clinvest Research is a dedicated medical research facility passionate about new disease control and prevention concepts. Working with some of the nation’s top specialty physicians in the Springfield, Missouri, area, Clinvest Research conducts FDA Phase II-IV studies. Their dedicated team of research professionals is committed to excellence, making them a leader in the field of Clinical Research. Clinvest Research has conducted studies in several research areas, including headache, migraine, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, low back pain, inflammatory bio-markers, obesity, and vaccines.

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