African Americans' participation in clinical research: importance, barriers, and solutions

Am J Surg. 2007 Jan;193(1):32-9; discussion 40. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2005.11.007.


Ethical and scientifically sound research requires that any sample population represent the population as a whole. African-Americans suffer disproportionately from cancer, hypertension, and heart failure compared with whites, but they are commonly underrepresented in clinical trials of these diseases. Failure to include African-American subjects in clinical trials prevents generalizability of the results to this population. African-Americans are often underrepresented in clinical research for numerous historic, societal, educational, and economic reasons. Efforts to improve enrollment of African-American subjects requires recognition of the problem, planning, educational efforts, and investigator training. The incidence of heart disease and prostate cancer in African-Americans dictates that these patients be targeted for clinical trials of surgical research. The research team must appreciate the importance of community involvement and support in recruiting African-Americans participants. Additionally, the continued effort to recruit and train African-American investigators must be a priority.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Biomedical Research / ethics
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Clinical Protocols / classification
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / ethics*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Epidemiologic Research Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Selection / ethics*
  • Sex Distribution