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J Natl Med Assoc. 1997 Nov;89(11):721-7.

Barriers to black women's participation in cancer clinical trials.

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  • 1Department of Family Practice, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 78284-7795, USA.


This study examines attitudes that may deter black women from participating in cancer research. Subjects were recruited from women who did not respond to the initial recruitment mailing for the Women's Health Initiative. Each subject was administered a 7- to 10-minute telephone survey. One third (29) of the 80 subjects were black. Fifty-six percent of black women and 71% of white women had positive attitudes toward cancer clinical trials. More than 80% of the women surveyed agreed that clinical research benefits society and increases medical knowledge. However, almost one third of the black women agreed that scientists cannot be trusted while only 4% of whites responded similarly. Additionally, 29% of black women agreed that researchers did not care about them compared with 14% of white women. Only 28% of black women felt that clinical research in the United States was ethical, and 37% had a preference to be treated by a black scientist compared with 2% of whites. Controlling for other covariates, black women had more negative altitudes overall to clinical trials than white women. These findings support the likelihood that barriers exist for the participation of blacks and other minorities in clinical research. These barriers may impact the involvement of black women in cancer clinical trials. Improving trust and creating a perception of a caring attitude from investigators are important to overcoming these barriers. The inclusion of more black scientists as leaders of cancer clinical trials also may help improve these participation rates.

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