The Lack of African American Participation in Clinical Trial in the US

The importance of considering the low level of African American communities in the clinical trials is explained by a set of reasons which lie in the scientific and social dimensions: firstly, African American population in the USA is rather numerous and has the big potential in terms of providing volunteers for the clinical trials; at the same time, lack of African American participants raises the question of possibility to generalize the results of clinical research and extend its validity to the African American population.

However, the level of the African American minority’s participation in the clinical trials remains rather low, which sets the following tasks for the dissertation: to investigate the reasons for low participation level and to outline the ways to stimulate the African American population to take part in the clinical trials more actively.

Although the final answer for the topic has not been formulated, the research has shown a set of possible reasons for the low participation level; to sum up, they can be classified as those concerning social and cultural issues. That is why the dissertation should imply combining positivist and interpretive approaches when carrying out the research, as each of these approaches provides appropriate instruments for investigating both groups.

The first group of reasons includes social issues which mainly concern the African American community’s setting and mode of life. First of all, considering that the African American population lives in the rural, it is possible to say, that the awareness of the clinical trials is rather low in this community: the information does not reach its destination. It is marked, that the doctors do not provide sufficient discussion with the clients from the African American community in terms of both clinical trials’ importance and their benefits.

As well, other sources of information about the clinical trials are considered not to reach the African American community effectively. Besides, the social factor hinders the community’s participation in the numerous participation criteria which turn out to be rather strict for the African American citizens who often have multiple health problems. At the same time, African American citizens are often not able to find time for participation in the clinical trial programs, as it does not fit their mode of life.

The reasons mentioned above require investigation based on both qualitative and quantitative analysis: on the one hand, it is necessary to analyze the effectiveness of the information sources and their disadvantages; on the other hand, separate aspects concerning the programs’ requirements and timing, as well as those describing rate of the minority’s health level correspondence to the programs’ requirements, can be described in numbers.

The second group of factors touches on the cultural dimension. Mostly they concern the African American population’s sense of unity. First of all, the clinical trials are analyzed by the African American citizens in terms of their benefit for their community; at the same time, low participation of people from their environment hinders their decision making in terms of volunteering: example and precedent are rather important for the minority.

African American community is also considered to require the programs’ adaptation, which is often not fulfilled. Cultural issues should not be underrated when studying social processes concerning the African American communities, and numerous sources support this idea: for example, Gerald Early has devoted his essay published in The New York Times to analyzing the reasons for the African American citizens’ rare presence at baseball games, asking, “Do they have a need for a certain level of representation because they are the minority?” (Early, 2006, cited in Aaron, 2009, p. 314). Juana Bordas in her (2007) talks about the ancient African principle of unity kept by the modern community.

Elijah Andersen’s (2000) is about a certain “code of practice” which exists among the representatives of the African American community: this book provides useful examples of how the African American citizens interact and what values they consider to be the most important. Thus, it is obvious, that investigation of these cultural issues cannot be limited by the positivist approach and requires using elements of interpretive studying.

After investigation of the reasons for the African American citizens’ low participation in the clinical trials, it will be possible to develop the scheme of its increase and to recommend the appropriate practical steps.


Anderson, E. (2000). Code of the street: decency, violence, and the moral life of the inner city. London, Norton.

Bordas, J. (2007). Salsa, soul, and spirit: leadership for a multicultural age. San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Early, G. (2006). Black Ball. In: E. Aaron. Compact reader. 8th edition. Bedford, St Martins.