Randomized clinical trials are an essential component of the development and proper deployment of novel therapies. However, there are many disparities in access to and participation in clinical trials throughout the United States.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in large-scale destabilization, which has extended to clinical trials. This article, published in Ethnicity & Disease, describes how COVID-19 has affected diversity in clinical trials.
The researchers divide the impact of COVID-19 on clinical trials into two main categories: systemic and personal. They note that there are many factors currently influencing the participation rates of diverse populations in clinical trial research.
These factors include communication difficulties, distrust, lack of access, perceptions of research, recruitment strategies, and socioeconomic background. Rather than creating new barriers to entry for these populations, the researchers suggest that the pandemic is exacerbating current barriers.
One major source of disparity noted in the article is that clinical trials are often performed in academic medical centers, which are utilized less by communities of color. As a result, these institutions must be able to engage with these communities in a more direct manner. The researchers also note that more transparent communication and improved access to resources such as transportation can increase participation rates .
Source: Lackland, D. T., Sims-Robinson, C., Jones Buie, J. N., & Voeks, J. H. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on Clinical Research and Inclusion of Diverse Populations. Ethnicity & Disease, 30(3), 429–432. https://doi.org/10.18865/ed.30.3.429