October 20, 2023

Improving underrepresented patient participation in clinical trials: It matters who makes the request

Editor's Note

In this investigative study done by the Boston Medical Center (BMC), patients were shown more likely to agree to participate in clinical studies when approached by research staff of the same race or ethnicity as them. The findings were published in JAMA Ophthalmology on October 19. 

The study analyzed clinical studies from 2015 to 2021 in BMC’s eye clinic, which included demographic information about the patient and the research staff member who approached the patients. Among the findings:

  • When the staff member was the same race or ethnicity, 65% of patients agreed to participate, versus 40% when staff were of a different race or ethnicity. 
  • The clinical studies were focused on ophthalmic diseases like glaucoma, which disproportionately affect Black people.
  • Other strategies to increase the participation of underrepresented patients in trials includes decreasing the burden of travel time and cost and enhancing outreach efforts. 

The researchers say they hope the study will provide further guidance on how to improve representation of patients underrepresented in trials. 


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