As COVID-19 continues to expose inequalities in healthcare, the medical community is looking at all facets of research and clinical trials to address issues of diversity, understanding, and representation. W2O sponsored a panel with MM&M, “From Barriers and Bias to Better: What it Will Take to Create More Diverse and Inclusive Clinical Trials” to tackle these topics, with speakers Megan Claire Chase, Dr. John Stewart, and myself.
This conversation felt particularly timely and poignant, as our nation is in the midst of grappling with systemic racism and how it’s permeated every facet of our society. As many of us unfortunately know, healthcare is not immune to racism and bias.
During our panel, we discussed the “how” behind bridging the representation gap in clinical trials, from this, three key themes emerged:
1. Patients need to be seen, heard, and believed in order to build trust
In order to address issues of representation and inequality in clinical research, patients (particularly underrepresented patients) need to feel seen, heard, believed, and understood. According to Megan Claire, 5 things are needed to start the conversation and ignite action: (1) see us, (2) listen to us, (3) be present, (4) believe us, and (5) include us.
“If we don’t have those steps happening, it’s going to be really difficult to reach the Black community and POC to even consider clinical trials as an option,” Megan Claire said.
2. Doctors and the medical community need to meet patients where they are at
During our discussion, I pointed out, “We need to figure out where the individual patients sits and we need to meet them where they are.”
The medical community needs to have honest and digestible conversations with patients in order to meet them where they are at and build a trusting relationship. By using understandable terminology, taking the time to thoroughly explain conditions and information, and being present in conversations, medical professionals and clinical research teams can meet patients where they are at and build relationships from there.
3. Medical community and clinical research teams must understand the unique healthcare needs of different communities
Not only is it important for clinical research teams to understand the medical needs of a community, but they also must understand how those connect with other community healthcare needs (i.e. the social determinants of health).
“We need to have a clinical research workforce that is diverse [because] the data show that patients trust people who have similar experiences to them,” noted Dr. John Stewart.
Each community and each individual patient is unique, and in order to repair the disparities in clinical trials, the clinical research community must begin with transparent conversations to build trust with patients and meet their diverse needs.
We, as healthcare professionals, have a long way to go to achieve health equity, whether it is equal representation in clinical trials or access to care for all. As a community of dedicated problem-solvers, I challenge us all to leave the world a healthier place than we found it…for all.
Missed the presentation? Register to view the free recording.