Why diversity is important in clinical trials

Living in an age in which recognising the need for equality in the workplace, relationships and other situations is commonplace, it can be surprising to learn that this is not the same across all aspects of western culture.

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In the field of clinical research, it seems that the initial focus is still very much on the masculine, with largely male animals and animal cells being used in clinical trials. Later, at the human stage, the gender balance is often more even; however, two key problems remain unaddressed.

Two major issues

Firstly, by overlooking the possible impact of gender on results at the animal test stage, the validity of the trial results – and consequently the health of the women who participate in the later paid research studies – may well be compromised.

Secondly, there is severe underrepresentation of both genders from diverse ethnic backgrounds in human stage clinical trials.

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Why does gender matter?

Quite simply, males and females do not have the exact same biology; consequently, it should not be assumed that the way a male animal or human responds to something will be automatically replicated in women. The final product could at best be ineffective and at worst dangerous to a woman or female animal, despite having passed all the tests on their male counterparts with no red flags.

Alarmingly, even when research is focused on conditions that affect many more women than men, such as insomnia or lupus, these patterns do not change very much. There is a real likelihood that women are being treated with medicines designed for male sufferers, with no accounting for their different needs.

The role of ethnicity

In many clinical trials, the ethnic backgrounds of participants do not represent regional demographics, even in trials in which minority groups are known to be more prone to the disease or condition the trial drug is targeting. Ultimately, overlooking the influence of ethnicity on trial results hampers the delivery of fair and useful treatment in the long term.

Many factors influence the underrepresentation of women and people from minority ethnic groups; however, using a company experienced in all aspects of recruiting, such as http://www.trials4us.co.uk/, may help things to run more smoothly.

The need for appropriate gender and ethnic diversity in clinical trials is critical to ensure effectiveness, progress and participant safety.

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