Why do we need diverse groups of research volunteers?

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June 4, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached nearly every country in the world. In the U.S. big cities and small towns have been affected. Knowledge about COVID-19 is constantly changing. New research will be conducted to find ways to treat those who are affected worldwide.

What is clinical research?

Clinical research refers to medical research studies with humans. These studies look for safe and effective ways to prevent and treat disease. There is no “one size fits all” medical treatment. Doctors need to know how new medical treatments may affect people differently.

Why is having diverse groups in research important?

Having diverse groups gives confidence that research results will apply to a wide range of people. This will help make sure everyone can get the treatment that is best for them. Ensuring diversity in research is also a way to help reduce health disparities and achieve health equity. Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just chance to be as healthy as possible.

Here are a few reasons why having diverse research volunteers is so important.

  • Factors like a person’s age might affect the side effects they have.
  • New drugs may interact with other medicines that people already take.
  • The instructions for how to take a medicine need to be easily understood by everyone, including those who speak a language other than English.
  • Genetics can sometimes play a role in how a person responds to a medicine.
  • Clinical trials can give people access to the newest medical treatments. The advanced technologies that might be needed are often located in big cities. This can limit access for those who live in rural areas.

Why haven’t diverse groups been included in research?

Lack of diversity in research can be affected by various reasons including a researcher’s own biases. For example, a researcher might think a person with a disability can’t take part in a research study. In fact, researchers must take steps to make sure people with disabilities can access research. Research must also recognize the different ways people express their gender.

Is it important to include diverse groups in COVID-19 studies?

Yes, it is. The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate in who it infects. It’s true that this disease has hit some groups very hard. A diverse group of research volunteers can help make sure that research results apply to as many people as possible.

Visit WePartner4Research to learn more about how clinical trials work. There you will find what we are doing to help make sure research has diverse groups of volunteers.

The official name of the virus that started a worldwide outbreak in late 2019 is “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.”  The abbreviation is SARS-CoV-2. When the virus infects someone, the diagnosis is called “Coronavirus Disease 2019.” The abbreviation is COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.

Diversity in Clinical Trials

To learn more about the importance of diversity in research, check out this short video from the University of California San Francisco.

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