Over the past few months, we have learned more about how COVID-19 is affecting populations around the world. Since the initial cases in this country were reported in February, it is apparent that there is a disproportionate impact on members of the black community. Given the recent increase in attention to the topic of clinical research in the wake of the pandemic, it is important, now more than ever, for people of color to talk to their healthcare providers about the possibility in participating in clinical trials.
Why diversity in clinical trials matters
Over the years, clinical studies of various disciplines have shown the disturbing trend that women and people of color are not receiving the same level of care and experiencing worse outcomes at higher rates when compared to white males.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than Caucasians. However, in the area of cardiovascular research, the American Heart Association reports that despite an increasingly diverse U.S. population, clinical trials evaluating new medical and device therapies for cardiovascular disease have historically enrolled a disproportionately low number of women and minorities.
Because data from clinical trials often guides treatment decisions, participants in clinical trials should represent the patients that will either use or be treated by these medical advancements. Studies have shown that people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, may react differently to medical products. If people of color are not being included in these studies, then they are being left out of the decisions being made that support the safety and effectiveness of a treatment option.