Special Issue

African American participation in cancer clinical trials

25 Oct 2021
Jordan Swaby, Ernie Kaninjing, Motolani Ogunsanya

Background: According to the Food and Drug Administration, African Americans (AAs) have been habitually underrepresented in cancer clinical trials (CCTs). This under-enrolment has contributed to cancer disparities despite the implementation of policies to improve AA accrual. This systematic review aimed to determine (1) Why AAs are participating in CCT at lower rates compared to other ethnic/racial groups and (2) Are there any tools that have definitively improved AA participation or addressed the barriers associated with their lack of participation.

Methods: Searches were carried out in PubMed, Project MUSE and EBSCO which were confined to four databases (BASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and MEDLINE). Literature published between 2010 and 2020 were filtered with the inclusion and exclusion criteria and then a mixed methods appraisal tool was used to check the quality of the articles. Studies were separated into two categories to extract and synthesise data based on the emerging themes.

Results: Frequent reasons for a lack of participation involved provider related issues, family concerns, health literacy and trust among others. Interventions cited as successful in improving AA participation or addressing a barrier often revolved around community-based participatory research and educational CCT videos/tools.

Recommendations/Conclusion: Educating AA patients about the biomedical research process, addressing concerns about CCTs, building trust with community members and improving communication with healthcare providers could improve AA participation in CCTs. Future interventions should consider the effect of diversified healthcare teams in addressing trust deficit in CCTs among AAs. Healthcare practitioners seeking to consent AA into CCTs and biomedical research could consider incorporating cultural competence into their practice for effective interaction with this population and to address their questions about biomedical research.

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