The Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials

Patients’ participation in clinical trials has led to considerable improvements in the success of various treatments. Therefore, clinical trials are significant, especially in drug development and the approval process of new medications. Most of the conditions and disorders aimed at being treated with new methods are highly complex and affect individuals in varying ways. Hence it’s very critical that clinical trials include a wide variety of patients from across all demographics and health histories to understand the full scope of new treatments.

Why Diversity is Important in Clinical Trials

A clinical trial that is widely represented offers meaningful results that can be easily applied in a real-world situation for treatment care. However, when trials aren’t designed to account for certain age groups and ethnicities, they are unable to show how a given treatment affects any potential patient. Ensuring a trial population is diverse means you get a much broader understanding of how a treatment, such as a new drug, affects all people.

Groups that are often underrepresented in clinical research include:

  • Older adults (65+)
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Rural residents
  • Children
  • People of low socioeconomic status

Unless a trial includes people of all backgrounds, the results cannot be directly applied to people in these demographics, leaving patients and practicioners uninformed of the risks of treatment.

Recruiting for Real-World Results

Not every trial needs to have exactly the same population makeup as exists in the target audience (usually the US population) because some diseases disproportionately affect specific demographics. For example, we know that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected people of color more than other ethnicities. In designing trials to test new Covid-19 treatments, therefore, companies may decide to recruit a higher percentage of people of color than there are in the national population.

However, there are several barriers that make recruiting for trials difficult. First, many people are simply too far away from where the trial is being run. Second, not everyone can take the time out of their schedule for frequent appointments, follow-ups, and data logging that trial participants are often asked to do. Finally, logistical barriers like not understanding the language a trial is being conducted in or not having access to digital tools can make it difficult to recruit a diverse population. 

Benefits of Joining a Clinical Trial

If you suffer from a disease or condition that doesn’t currently have a safe and effective treatment option, whether a drug or some kind of procedure, you may be aware of your ability to join trials of new treatments for your condition. The benefits in this case are usually that you receive the treatment (or in some cases a placebo) for free, as the trial runner likely foots the bill for treatments. If you’re given an effective treatment, this can also improve your symptoms and lead to a higher quality of life.

Research trials are always looking to include new people to fill out their diverse population. Especially if you fall under one or more of the categories mentioned above, you could be valuable to the pursuit of medical science and be a part of bringing treatment for people who have been and will be diagnosed with certain disorders. Benefits to people like you vary by study, but can include financial compensation or simply the altruistic feeling of having helped society.

Join a Clinical Trial Today

If you want to help our world develop new medical technologies and treatments, you can help by joining a clinical trial. Altus Research provides the opportunity to join many different types of trials, from birth control to psoriasis studies. Find out which trials are currently enrolling or contact us about joining our database of volunteers so we can reach you when you qualify for a trial in the future.

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