More Blacks Needed In Health Studies

Karen Overstreet, Roy, Heli J.

Recruiting volunteers for clinical trials is an on-going challenge. Until recently, women and racial and ethnic minorities were under-represented in clinical research, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Heli Roy.

Chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity affect blacks disproportionately, Roy points out, noting that black participation could identify effective prevention and treatment strategies for minority groups.

"Race can affect disease progression and response and, to be able to generalize study results to blacks, it is important to include them in clinical trials," Roy says, adding, "To include minorities in clinical studies, researchers need to understand the perceptions and knowledge of the black population."

Dr. Betty Kennedy from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Dr. Michael Burnett from the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, Louisiana State University, assessed the knowledge and perceptions of 386 African Americans about clinical trials’ purpose and process.

Of those taking part in the study, 158 had participated in past clinical trials. The participants were mailed a questionnaire that assessed knowledge of clinical research process, perceptions of clinical research purposes and gender, age, marital status, education level, employment status, household income and distance lived from the research center.

The conclusions from this study indicated that blacks who were potential participants understood the rights of the participant, such as being able to withdraw at any time and the right to refuse a clinical trial.

The study also showed that those who had participated in clinical trials were more knowledgeable about research trials than those that had not participated. Most important, the study also showed that those who participated had more positive perceptions of the benefits of clinical trials than those who had not participated.

The study recommended that seeking potential participants from the black community would be enhanced if community members were contacted during the planning and initiation phase of the research protocols.

Education of the black community on clinical research trials in informal meetings, workshops and seminars would improve participation in clinical trials. Additionally, once research is conducted, it would be important to make the research results available to the community, whether the results were successful or not.

"Making the research results available to the community would help build trust and credibility and would enhance future recruitment efforts," Roy emphasizes, adding, "The research results should be written in culturally sensitive terminology and made widely available to the community."

10/4/2004 4:25:30 AM
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