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Continued Disparities in Clinical Trials

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, OCN, FAAN
Clinical trial enrollment is critical to continued progress in oncology care and outcomes. Over 20 years ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 mandated the inclusion of minorities in NIH-funded clinical trials. However, despite this mandate, clinical trial enrollment of minority patients remains unacceptably low.

Researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Davis counted the frequency with which minorities were the primary focus of NIH-sponsored clinical trials, examined citations from the PubMed database focusing on the search terms “NIH Revitalization Act of 1993” and “enhancing minority accrual to cancer clinical trials,” and supplemented the review with their expertise in NIH-funded research related to minority accrual in cancer clinical trials. The researchers found that only 1.3% of clinical cancer studies have focused on people of non-white races or ethnic groups. They noted that this statistic is unacceptably low, especially in view of the fact that the highest rates of cancer often occur in non-white races or ethnic groups.
Without adequate representation in clinical trials, it is projected that disparities in the cancer burden for minorities will only increase.

Vickers S, Fouad M, Chen MS. Enhancing minority participation in clinical trials (EMPaCT): Laying the groundwork for improving minority clinical trial accrual. Cancer; published online on March 18, 2014, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.28618.
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