Since its inception, a major weakness in clinical trial research has been an inability to recruit diverse populations into clinical trials. These under-represented populations are mostly comprised of the poor, the elderly, children, women, and racial/ethnic minorities (African Americans and Hispanics). This fundamental weakness is further exacerbated by the fact that these same groups are often disproportionately affected by the diseases being studied in clinical trials. There are various patient specific, provider specific, and policy related causes for the existence of these disparities. Regardless of the cause, the lack of participation of these groups in clinical trials raises important questions about the quality and ethics of clinical research. The goal of this document is to discuss the evidence and reasons behind disparities in clinical trial participation. We also provide a discourse on potential mechanisms to address disparities in clinical trial accrual including the ethical considerations of financial incentives, the impact of a more stringent policy and review process for product approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including a diversity mandate with an associated population black box warning.
Part of the book: Clinical Trials in Vulnerable Populations