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Am J Ther. 2008 Jan-Feb;15(1):3-11. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e31815fa75a.

Racial disparities among clinical research investigators.

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  • 1Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Evidence shows that minority patients are underrepresented in clinical trials. The development of new drugs and treatments, however, requires that clinical research studies include representative participants, particularly in light of evidence indicating that minority populations sometimes respond differently to prescription medications. Racial disparities among clinical investigators are often cited as a major reason why minority patients are underrepresented in clinical trials. However, there is little to no empirical data to support or refute the prevalence of disparities among clinical investigators. The Tufts Center conducted two online surveys of 1376 physicians. The first survey (N = 859 respondents; 31% response rate) assessed the overall incidence of minority physician involvement in clinical research. The second survey (N = 768 respondents; 20% response rate) assessed the demographics, experience, and infrastructure of minority physicians who have participated in clinical research as a principal investigator or subinvestigator. The results of this study indicate that significant racial disparities exist among clinical investigators. The results also support assertions that physician race influences race of the clinical trial volunteer. The incidence of participation in clinical research among minority physicians is well below that observed among white physicians, more so with regard to U.S. Food & Drug Administration-regulated clinical trials funded by industry. Minority investigators tend to conduct and initiate fewer clinical trials annually. Yet minority and white physician interest in participating in clinical research is similarly high. Minority investigators tend be younger, with more limited clinical research infrastructure and support than their white counterparts. New strategies, policies, incentives, and reforms are needed to address racial disparities among clinical investigators. In addition, disparities among both volunteers and investigators need to be tracked more closely and methodically to monitor and assess the impact of newly implemented programs and reforms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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