Exciting medical and health innovations generated by clinical trials that could alleviate suffering and prolong life are often not reaching communities of color compared to non-minority communities, even though many chronic diseases are highly prevalent in these communities, according to a report from Rubix Life Sciences.
“Minority populations could significantly benefit from inclusion in clinical trials and resulting innovations that could reduce the incidence and prevalence of common ailments and better manage chronic diseases,” says Reginald Swift, Ph. D., founder/CEO at Rubix Life Sciences. He notes that the incidence and prevalence of disease in these minority communities rarely match clinical trial populations for various reasons.
The cold statistics are concerning. For example, there are clear and alarming disparities in clinical trial participation among different populations.
African Americans represent 5% of clinical trial participants but constitute 12% of the United States population; Hispanics make up 1% of participants, but they represent 16% of the people; females represent the majority of those participating in clinical trials, but men may be better represented in specific areas.
Dr. Swift says much work has yet to be done to address the disparities in health and disease observed in minority populations in the United States. “Additional effort must be placed upon clinical trial recruitment to address whether the findings from clinical trials will be generalizable to minority populations,” he says.
Understanding the absence or reservation of clinical trial participation among minorities may also contribute to a better understanding of why there are such broad inequities in the diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of the common diseases affecting these populations, the Rubix report says. More inclusive minority participation could translate into new lifesaving and life-extending treatments, enhancing the quality of life of so many people often overlooked by society.
The root causes of minority-white inequities in health and disease status have frequently and reliably been credited to socioeconomic status, including income, education, employment, lifestyle choices and behavioral risk factors, occupational and environmental exposures, substandard housing, inadequate nutrition, mistrust of the health care system, and cultural influences, according to the analysis.
Newer factors contributing to these disparities include insufficient access to and utilization of care and the lack of health insurance. The historical and persistent disadvantages of discrimination and conscious or unconscious bias of health care providers are also likely contributors to health disparities among minority populations.
Numerous studies have cited racial disparities in general medical and surgical care, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, stroke, kidney disease, HIV diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. “It is unsurprising that enormous resources have been utilized over the past 40 years to study cardiovascular disease (coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction) risk factors, pathophysiology, therapy, procedures, complications, and outcomes. This is simply because coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death among all population groups,” the report says. Unfortunately, “minorities have frequently been absent from inclusion in many of these CVD-related studies.”
“How can we expect to effectively treat our entire population if we don’t include them in clinical trials and give them access to vital care,” Swift says.
You can click Clinical Disparities in Disease Diagnosis and Patient Care for more information.