Clinical Trials Need to Be More Culturally Sensitive

Study says researchers need to take racial differences into account

FRIDAY, May 9, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A greater understanding of cultural sensitivity is important when designing clinical trials for black Americans.

That's the opinion of a Duke University Medical Center study in the spring issue of Ethnicity and Disease.

The Duke study says clinical trials on using behavior modification to prevent cardiovascular disease may challenge the ethnic identity of blacks. That could result in the trials being less effective than those in non-black groups.

A better understanding of cultural factors could increase recruitment and retention of blacks in clinical trials that use behavior modification and improve the outcomes for blacks who take part in such trials.

"Cultural differences and connections to cultural identity are important to understand when asking African-Americans to change their behaviors; in some cases it's like asking them to change who they are and how they view themselves," study author Dr. Jamy Ard says in a news release.

Food is an example of a potential area of cultural sensitivity.

"If I ask an African-American in a clinical trial to stop eating foods that she associates with her culture, she is going to be much more resistant to change than if I suggest foods that are already part of her lifestyle, but are much healthier for her. Behavior changes will only be adopted when they do not cause any sustained cultural discomfort," Ard says in the news release.

Socioeconomic status is another potential barrier for black Americans. If someone is struggling to make ends meet, researchers need to consider how that affects the person's ability to make significant lifestyle changes that might be required in clinical trials that promote behavior modification.

For example, someone who has to work two jobs may not have time to exercise or go to nutrition classes that are part of a clinical trial.

"We have to consider the potential implications on everyday life when designing clinical trials. Our interventions have to work in the real world with a diverse group of people," Ard says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about clinical trials.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Published on May 09, 2003

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