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CMA Foundation launches program to increase diversity in clinical trials



March 31, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Cultural Competency Public Health 

The California Medical Association (CMA) Foundation and its Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations (NEPO) have launched a campaign to increase minority participation in clinical studies. The “Encouraging Diversity in Clinical Trials” campaign hopes to increase clinical trial participation among California’s multi-ethnic patient populations. The campaign is part of the CMA Foundation’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness about critical health disparities and their impact on California’s underserved communities.


Clinical trials are research studies designed to evaluate the effects of medical interventions and medicines on patients; to help doctors understand, prevent and treat disease; and to provide patients with opportunities to receive cutting-edge care. Unfortunately, ethnically diverse patients, who have a higher prevalence of some diseases such as sickle cell anemia, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure, often miss out on the opportunity to participate because they lack access to referrals or feel uncertain about what participation entails. 


“An unrepresentative ethnic population in clinical trials can hinder progress in the development of safe, efficient and cost-effective therapies for diseases most prevalent among these patient populations. Some studies show less than 5 percent participation among minorities and especially among African Americans,” says NEPO Chair Margaret Juarez, M.D. “This is significant in that when scientists create treatments, the ethnic make-up is a factor in how medications respond to the body based on dosage, drug or another factor altogether.”


The two-pronged campaign launch entails the distribution of over 350 posters to 25 ethnic physician organizations and medical specialty societies across the state, as well as the launch of a 30-second public service announcement in key markets across the state.


“Innovations in treatment are bringing about a revolution in patient care and no individual or groups of Californians should be left behind,” said Dr. Juarez. “Participation in clinical trials by diverse communities will help improve health outcomes for patients of color and their families.”


Patients interested in participating in clinical trials should discuss the topic with their health care provider and visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

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