October 14, 2021

The Challenge of Diversity in Clinical Trial Recruitment in 2021

October 14, 2021

2020 was a banner year for clinical trial recruitment. In no other year in human history has the global population watched the pharmaceutical and vaccine development sector with such intense interest. Individuals who once cared very little about clinical trials may now be deeply interested, whether that interest stems from health or emotional concerns, or investing. 

And thanks to Operation Warp Speed (OWS), several vaccine options now exist to aid us in the fight against COVID-19. It’s the biggest news in the US pharmaceutical industry, and the world’s population continues to watch us closely.

We’ve learned a lot these past 18 months, and one glaring lesson has been about the value of diverse clinical trial populations.

Diverse Clinical Trial Populations Lead to Better Results

As a trial recruitment manager, you already know that before any new vaccine, medication, or device can be available to the US public, it must be thoroughly tested on human subjects in studies known as clinical trials.

  • Here in the US, the corresponding data from these tests is required as a condition for approval by regulatory authorities like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • The goal is to be sure a new treatment is safe and effective.
  • And results can provide other insights for physicians about how humans will respond to a new medication.  

As this MedicalNewsToday.com article says, most clinical trials do not score highly on the diversity front. It’s an ongoing and recognized problem, and a hindrance to medication and device development.

In the US and around the world:

  • Black and Hispanic populations are often underrepresented in clinical trials.
  • Asian patients are often overrepresented.

And in many cases, there is no data recorded about a patient’s ethnicity whatsoever.

Diversity Statistics Worth Considering

Statistics from a panel discussion at the 2019 BIO Conference revealed that ethnic / racial minorities make up nearly 40% of the US population.

  • However, clinical trial participation for these groups in the US ranges from 2% to 16%.
  • Put another way, nearly 14% of Americans are Black, but they make up less than 5% of trial participants.
  • And while Latinos make up 18% of the US population, only 1% of clinical trial participants acknowledge their Hispanic heritage.

As medicine becomes more sophisticated with targeted drugs, and gene therapies becoming a reality, this lack of diversity in clinical trials makes it challenging to see the complete picture of a drug’s safety and efficacy.

What Can Be Done to Mitigate the Diversity Challenge?

Choose the Right Media for Your Marketing

When planning your marketing efforts, it’s important to consider various approaches to reach a diverse population. Things to consider:

  • Imagery – Consider using images that resonate with various populations
  • Language Consider using language and tone that appeals to various demographics
  • Location/Interest Consider interest-based targeting to reach various populations

Pro tip: Facebook use continues to balloon after COVID-19 in every way. There are more users, more businesses, and more groups your trial can market towards and support. Facebook and Instagram advertising can reach various ethnic groups within your target demographic.

Effective Marketing

While social media has become a boon to recruiting managers, it’s key that the marketing you publish truly resonates with your intended audience. From a geo-demographic perspective, that means an understanding of literacy levels, median incomes, and transportation struggles. 

Ask: Is Your Marketing Mobile-Friendly?

Remember that some populations have little access to internet, and a mobile device may be the main way to access the internet. Further, your recruiting advertising must be brief, pointed, and engaging. It’s quite a balancing act, we know!

Boost Enrollment

Our mission is to boost patient recruitment across all demographics with data analytics, social media and tech.

Our innovative patient recruitment tools can help you reach recruits quickly and actively launch or scale back clinical studies, even if states and nations continue to open or shut down due to health considerations. 

We can provide you with:

  • Precise targeting
  • Site engagement services
  • Sophisticated analytics

…all in the spirit of achieving the successful and diverse study you need to help find safe and effective medical solutions.

Related Reading and Resources:

Pfizer.com: Diversity in Clinical Trials: Why it’s Important

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