Clinical research is critical to the development of a drug or medical device. Equally, diversity matters in clinical research. Without diversity, there’s no way to know how a product will work for all people. If a clinical trial doesn’t represent the population that may be using it, then we can’t know if it will be safe and effective for everyone. Groups such as women, people of color, and other populations experiencing health disparities—including socioeconomically disadvantaged populations—are increasingly underrepresented in clinical trials, and the trend may reflect a lack of diversity in research overall.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Trust Matter
Medical products can affect women and men differently, so it’s important that women participate in research so that researchers can receive full results. For example, factors such as hormones and menstrual cycles can affect the efficacy or side effects of some products. Researchers should carefully consider the inclusion or exclusion criteria for their clinical trials.
At the same time, failures such as the Tuskegee Experiment, which the United States Public Health Service conducted to observe the natural progression of untreated syphilis in Black populations, caused distrust of medical research among specific communities. Building trust should be a priority in clinical research.
Real Results in Clinical Research
Lack of diversity in clinical research can mean that the results might not apply to some patients. When people in medical studies aren’t representative of the general population, the results could end up skewed. Many studies still don’t include enough diversity among their participants. And even when they do try hard to include diverse groups in their research, sometimes there aren’t enough people in those groups willing to participate.
Therefore, you must take the necessary steps to ensure your trial is set up properly. When providing the study results, providing the public with information about the demographic makeup of the data you collected is also important.
Participating in clinical trials is voluntary, so informing community members of opportunities to participate in trials, contribute to science, and help people with similar health issues should be a targeted effort. When you’re developing clinical research, diversity matters—so put the time and intentional effort into including underrepresented groups in your research.