Minorities, Rural Residents in Maryland Less Likely To Be Cancer Clinical Trial Participants, Study Finds
Minorities and rural residents in Maryland are underrepresented in cancer clinical trials and blacks' rate of participation is dropping, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Baltimore Sun reports. For the study, lead author Claudia Baquet, a professor of medicine and director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health Disparities Research and Outreach, and colleagues examined 2,240 Maryland cancer patients who participated in National Cancer Institute clinical trials from 1999 to 2002.
Looking at specific areas, researchers found that Baltimore City and Prince George's County, which have large black populations, had low rates of participation in the trials. Researchers also found that the proportion of Maryland trial participants who were black fell from 24% to 18% over the study period. Several rural areas and counties also had low participation for the number of cancer patients living in the communities, according to the study.
Diversifying clinical trial participation helps ensure that the findings apply to various ethnic and geographic groups, experts have said. However, blacks generally have less access to care and, as a result, are less likely to participate in trials, according to the Sun. In addition, blacks remain reluctant to participate in medical studies because of concerns about the methodology of previous research, including the Tuskegee syphilis study, according to the Sun.
Baquet said blacks also are more likely to be excluded from clinical studies because of existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. Most studies also are conducted in urban academic medical centers, making it difficult for rural residents to participate, according to the Sun.
Study author Shiraz Mishra, an associate professor at the UM's School of Medicine, said, "Everyone should have an equal chance of participating in a trial. That does not happen" (Kohn, Baltimore Sun, 7/9).
The study is available online.