Design and implementation of a massive open online course on enhancing the recruitment of minorities in clinical trials - Faster Together

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2021 Mar 5;21(1):44. doi: 10.1186/s12874-021-01240-x.


Background: Racial and ethnic minorities are often underrepresented in clinical trials, threatening the generalizability of trial results. Several factors may contribute to underrepresentation of minorities in clinical trials, including lack of training for researchers and staff on the importance of diversity in clinical trials and effective strategies for recruiting and retaining minority populations.

Methods: Applying community engaged research principles, we developed a massive open online course (MOOC) to help research team members develop knowledge and skills to enhance the recruitment of minorities in clinical trials. A transdisciplinary working group, consisting of clinical researchers, community engagement specialists, minority clinical trial recruitment and retention educators and specialists, and knowledge management information scientists, was formed to develop an evidence-based curriculum. Feedback from the Recruitment Innovation Center Community Advisory Board was incorporated to help finalize the curriculum. The course was implemented in Coursera, an online learning platform offering MOOCs. A bootstrap paired sample t-test was used to compare pre- and post-assessments of knowledge, attitudes, and intentions as it relates to minority recruitment.

Results: The final course, entitled Faster Together, was divided into eight 1-h modules. Each module included video presentations, reading assignments, and quizzes. After 10 months, 382 individuals enrolled in the course, 105 participants completed the pre-test, and 14 participants completed the post-test. Participants' knowledge scores were higher with an increase in the mean number of correct answers from 15.4 (95% CI:12.1-18.7) on the pre-test to 18.7 (95% CI:17.42-20.2) on the post-test. All post-test respondents (n = 14) indicated that the course improved their professional knowledge, and 71.4% of respondents indicated that they were very likely to make changes to their recruitment practices.

Conclusions: Faster Together, a massive open online course, is an acceptable, accessible approach to educating research teams on minority recruitment in clinical trials. Preliminary evidence indicates the course increased knowledge on how to recruit minorities into clinical trials and could promote change in their recruitment practices.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Education; Ethnicity; Race.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Education, Distance*
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Pilot Projects
  • Research Personnel