Participation of African Americans in Clinical Trials

This research will differ substantially from other work carried out on the topic because not only will it get to the root cause of low African American participation in clinical trials by determining the most influential reasons, but it will also look for solutions to this problem of low participation.

A literature review on the topic demonstrates that it has attracted a lot of attention from scholars in racial studies, social sciences, medicine, and many other fields. For instance, Giselle et al. (2007) wanted to describe what the barriers to participation in this racial group were: attitudinal measurements were carried out and it was found that concerns about exploitation by researchers were a significant barrier, relinquishment of one’s autonomy and also past experiences in participation such as the Tuskegee syphilis study. This analysis did not determine the most influential reason and minimal linkages were made between attitudes and solutions. Deblue et al. (2006) wanted to investigate the gender differences that existed between African American men and women about clinical participation. They found that women valued autonomy in research while men were concerned about the impacts of the study. This research introduced a new dimension – gender differences- to general research on the subject matter. Adams-Campbell et al (2004) found that research criteria were exclusive thus making blacks ineligible for the studies. Harris et al (2007) summarized these barriers very well in their study where they asserted that economical factors, mistrust, communication, and lack of awareness were the major factors. They went a step ahead to give recommendations of solutions. This analysis was very wide-ranging; however, it did not offer direct causations between their subjects and the solutions to the latter problem.

In terms of approaches for improving participation of patients in clinical trials, several studies have been done to find out workable solutions to low participation; for instance, McDaid et al. (2006) claim that interventions for eradicating barriers to low participation in cancer treatment were not effective. Although this is a negative statement, the study also revealed that the involvement of nurses and urologists in recruiting participants produced relatively positive outcomes. Consequently, the selection of the right recruiters is an essential part of this process. Reymond (2007) identified several reasons that lead to poor participation in clinical trials and they include fear of side effects or randomization. Potential participants were also found to distrust researchers and medical professionals. Some were not even familiar with clinical trials themselves while others lacked the logistics to take part in the trials especially those that came from low-income backgrounds. Conversely, Reymond (2007) asserted that patients will participate in clinical trials if they believe that the results of the survey had the potential to make their own lives better. Furthermore, they will do so once they understand that the results could bring health costs down or result in better healthcare for the community. In others words, altruism is an important contributor in this regard. This study did not focus on the African American community specifically and it is, therefore, necessary to research the latter group. Williams et al (2008) claimed that low participation patterns in clinical trials can be reversed through advertisement; an idea borrowed from requests for donations of blood, organs, and money for charity. They asserted that altruism can be inculcated in individuals once the public reflects on the benefits of their involvement.

Several studies have therefore identified some of the barriers to the participation of African Americans in clinical trials, however, minimal associations have been made between the reason and possible solutions; this will be the most unique aspect of the study


Harris, Y., Gorelick, P., Samuels, P. & Bempong, I. (1996). Why African Americans may not be participating in clinical trials. National medical association journal, 86(10),630-634.

McDaid, C., Hodges, Z., Fayter, D., Stirk, L. & Eastwood, A. (2006). Increasing cancer patient participation in randomized controlled trials. Trials journal. 7(4), 16.

Reymond, E. (2007). New project to boost patient participation in US trials. Web.

Williams. B., Entwistle, V., Haddow, G. & Wells, M. (2008). Promoting research participation: Why not advertise altruism. Social science and medicine journal, 66(7), 1451-1456.

Giselle, C., Thomas, S., Willimas, M. & Moody Ayers, S. (2007). Attitudes and beliefs of African Americans toward participation in medical research. General Internal medicine, 14(9), 537-546.

Deblue, R., Richardsons, K. Lin, J., Rivera, A. & Grandison, D. (2006). African Americans and participation in clinical trials: differences in beliefs and attitudes by gender, Contemporary clinical trails journal, 27(6), 498-505.

Adams-Campbell, Ahaghotu, C., Gaskins, M., Dawkins, F., Smoot, D., Octavius, P., Gooding, R. & Dewitty, R. (2004). Enrollment of African American onto clinical treatment trials: study design barriers. Clinical oncology journal, 22(4), 730-734.