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A Lack of Diversity in Trials

A new report finds that the lack of diversity among clinical trial participants is harming both the underrepresented populations and the wider biomedical field, according to Stat News.

The report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine finds that not including a diverse population in medical research limits the applicability of those studies' findings and, further, that that could not only undermine trust in the medical system but also exacerbate health disparities and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

In a related editorial appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the University of California, San Francisco's Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the editor of the NASEM report and incoming editor-in-chief of JAMA, and colleagues note that improving clinical trial diversity "has been a stated federal policy priority" for 30 years but that between "2013-2018, progress toward equitable representation in clinical trials largely stalled."

In the NASEM report, the authors offer a number of recommendations, including that federal agencies better coordinate data collection, develop recommendations on how to compensate trial participants for their time, and invest in community research infrastructure, and more.

"Most important, the report calls for immediate and urgent action," Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues write at JAMA. "Ensuring diverse and inclusive clinical research is an existential imperative."