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Promoting Diversity in Clinical Trials

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Clinical trials are the primary vehicle for developing new treatments for patients with cancer, and patient participation in trials is crucial to their success. Most patients are willing to participate in clinical research—but not all have the same opportunity to participate.

The patient impact

People of color, young adults, older patients and patients in rural communities often are underrepresented in clinical trials. Not only does this mean that they could lose out on early access to investigational—but potentially life-saving—treatments, but it also means that researchers and doctors learn less about how new therapies impact all cancer patients.

Some barriers that can discourage or prevent patients from enrolling in a clinical trial include:

  • Time and cost required to travel for appointments if the clinical trial is not close to the patient’s location. Studies suggest that over half of patients do not have a local trial available for their cancer.
  • Lack of requirements to recruit representative groups of patient participants
  • Historic and ongoing discrimination and mistreatment of communities of color by medical institutions, leading to distrust in some places
  • Exclusion criteria prevents them from participating
  • Not being asked by their provider to enroll

These barriers can be particularly harmful to patients who already face systemic social, economic or environmental disadvantages.

The solution

To ensure that all patients have the opportunity to survive treatment and attain good quality of life, we support policies that:

  • Allow trials to include care that is delivered outside the primary trial site, by local providers or in-home care
  • Require all insurers, including Medicaid to cover the cost of routine care that patients receive while enrolled in a clinical trial
  • Expand eligibility for cancer clinical trials to enable the discovery of better and more reliable results
  • Require drug companies who sponsor clinical trials to increase participation of groups that are currently underrepresented in all trials
  • Increase culturally competent outreach and recruitment techniques to prevent discrimination against cancer patients on the basis on race, color, age, gender identity, disability or other factors