Spencer Hoover, vice president and executive director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, is co-author of a manuscript published in the Journal of Oncology Practice aimed at establishing best practices to promote diversity in clinical trials. In-depth interviews were conducted with leaders from U.S. cancer centers with above average recruitment of racial and ethnic minority groups into clinical trials, with the goal of identifying specific strategies that were used to facilitate participation among racial and ethnic minorities.
Participation of racial and ethnic minority groups in cancer trials is disproportionately low despite a high-prevalence of certain cancers among those populations. According to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, approximately 10 percent of the minority population in the U.S. participates in clinical trials. At the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, more than 30 percent of cancer clinical trial participants represent a racial or ethnic minority group.
“The importance of engaging racial and ethnic minority patients in clinical trials cannot be overstated,” said Hoover. “This population of patients has long been underrepresented in clinical trials, and it’s time we change that. Clinical trials for medications and medical devices must be representative of the diverse populations who will use them.”
The manuscript indicates leadership, patient engagement, and community engagement practices as crucial factors to facilitate increased accrual of racial and ethnic minorities in cancer trials. In particular, high-recruiting centers such as Henry Ford Cancer Institute excelled in engaging with providers as the most important influencer of patient participation, engaging community leaders and building trust, and seeking dedicated input clinical research programs from racial and ethnic minority patients and caregivers to identify and overcome potential barriers as early as possible.
“There are few cancer centers in the U.S. that are able to engage ethnic and racial minority patients in clinical trials as effectively as the Henry Ford Cancer Institute,” said Jeanne Regnante, senior vice president of Community Education at Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC and lead author of the manuscript. “Our hope is that cancer centers throughout the country will benefit from the best practices identified in this publication. Leadership at the Henry Ford Cancer Institute is clearly laying the foundation of a paradigm-shift with precision medicine, especially in cancer.”