Barriers and facilitators to participation of minorities in clinical trials

Ethn Dis. 2012 Spring;22(2):226-30.


Objective: Historically, researchers have experienced difficulties with the recruitment of underrepresented populations, especially for women and minorities to cancer clinical trials. This has lead to marked health disparities among these groups. The purpose of this literature review is to investigate barriers and facilitators that provide explanations for the low participation rate of women and minorities in clinical trials.

Methods: A search was conducted for published work in medical and social research from 1995 to 2008 using computerized databases: PubMed, CINAHL, and PsyclNFO. The following MeSH terms were used; clinical trials, minorities, minority groups, participation, recruitment, research subjects, and neoplasm. This netted a total of 43 articles, 22 of which were deemed appropriate for this article.

Findings: Most striking throughout the literature was that barriers to trial participation were reported at an appreciably higher rate than facilitators. Health care provider barriers were captured by two themes: physician triage and physician knowledge. Patient barriers to trial participation emerged as reports of fear, mistrust of the medical community and the burden associated with trial participation. Facilitators to trial participation included physician enthusiasm and good communication skills, a good provider-patient relationship, having a perceived benefit, and feelings of altruism.

Discussion: This review provides a background into women and minorities' participation in clinical research. Patient recruitment into clinical trials is a complex process and there is limited research exploring the optimization of study recruitment.

Conclusions: More information is needed to understand the issues surrounding the decision making process of the potential trial participant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups*
  • Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Selection Bias