Raising Women’s Voices

Racial disparities in distrust toward medical research

Posted in Health Disparities, Reports and Studies by raisingwomensvoices on February 6, 2009

medical-research-imageA report published in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine finds that, when controlled for education levels, African American parents exhibit distrust toward medical research at approximately double the rate of white parents.

While there is an undeniable and ugly history in this country of racist exploitation of blacks in clinical experiments, the report calls for active strategies for overcoming this barrier to enrollment in clincal studies and the benefits that come of participation (often including financial compensation and free medicine, transportation and medical care).  One such strategy is the creation and dissemination of “culturally appropriate” recruitment materials.  But Somnath Saha, M.D., M.P.H., of the Portland VA Medical Center in Oregon, insists that clinical subjects will not be representative of the general population until members of the medical, science, and research professions reflect the diversity of our communities.

“Many minority groups are grossly underrepresented in the health care professions and in the research enterprise…If we want minority communities to participate in our work, we must first fix the racial and ethnic imbalance that continues to tilt our ivory towers.”

The topic of this report and the related article at Science Daily presents an uncommonly lucid example of the way in which barriers to equality operate systemically within our society.  The overwhelmingly white (or perhaps more accurately, disproportionately non-black, non-Hispanic), male face of the medical and science professions has far-reaching consequences that translate into unequal access to, and quality of, health care and medical resources across our communities.

File this one under “disparities” and “disparities.”

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