Please login to the form below

Achieve clinical trial diversity by introducing cultural safety

It’s time to take a step back and consider one of the roots of the diversity in clinical trials issue: bias.

What exactly can bias mean?

  • Implicit bias describes associations or attitudes that influences someone’s perceptions and actions, and the person themselves remains unaware.
  • On the other hand, conscious bias stems from discriminatory beliefs and values.

In clinical research, conscious bias is extremely dangerous. The Tuskegee study is just one example of how conscious bias, which manifested in the form of racism, allowed unethical experiments to take place. When not addressed, implicit bias can also have equally detrimental consequences, including miscommunication, mistrust, decreased satisfaction and disempowerment1. Sadly, much research suggests that implicit bias still silently seeps through healthcare today2.

As most societies become more diverse, healthcare professionals are increasingly faced with the need to interact effectively with and provide care for patients whose ethnic or cultural background may differ from their own. A healthcare provider’s implicit bias about particular characteristics, along with inadequate cross-cultural communication skills, may contribute to discordant medical care and health disparities between different patient populations2. Healthcare professionals may not be racially prejudiced, but healthcare services and institutions seemingly operate in a way that may discriminate against certain groups due to embedded norms, values and practices.

It's important to emphasise that healthcare providers may think they are behaving and communicating in a culturally safe manner, when in fact they are not. For example, one study found over 80% of healthcare workers often or sometimes found it more difficult to engage with or treat patients from cultures different to their own3. Further, many may fail to consider how many elements come under the cultural umbrella.

You can’t just think about ethnicity and think that’s the job done.

Site Training Diversity Clinical Trials

And of course, implicit bias can extend to clinical trials. Everyone in healthcare needs to understand the different parts of someone’s culture that could influence their interactions and experiences with clinical trials.

Could staff at sites where your study is taking place be unknowingly expressing bias, and be negatively impacting patient recruitment? Maybe site staff aren’t exhibiting bias, but could benefit from training that would help them bring down the barriers that are preventing underrepresented groups from taking part. Or maybe, those working on patient materials for your study aren’t considering diversity and inclusion. You need to make sure everyone involved in your study is equipped to succeed.

Although it’s an undeniably negative situation, it can be addressed and rectified.

Say hello to cultural safety training.

Maybe you’ve heard about this before, or cultural competency? Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural safety encompasses all of these points but goes further, and explores healthcare professionals’ individual attitudes, biases, stereotypes and more4. Training in cultural safety allows people to evaluate and critique these characteristics to become more self-aware, and to ultimately provide equal care to everyone. Cultural safety training also encompasses improving cultural awareness and understanding. It’s been found that practitioners’ increased cultural competence has been linked to increased patient satisfaction, treatment adherence and information seeking and sharing1.

Cultural safety for those working in clinical trials can help overcome the lack of diversity in clinical trials, by removing some of the barriers to underrepresented groups taking part. Examples of sessions you might expect to see in a robust cultural safety training programme include:

  • The importance of cultural safety in clinical trials
  • Understanding the patient perspective
  • Health literacy and language barriers
  • Education on health system bias
  • Using the right terminology
  • Tools to develop culturally safe clinical trials

Cultural safety training should never be a quick online meeting. It is a long process that needs a combination of training sessions, practice scenarios and experiences in the real world.

Yes, your clinical trial population might be far from diverse and inclusive at the moment. But by taking a step and tackling one of the root causes with cultural safety as the antidote, you can make a positive change sooner than you think.

As an industry, we need to ensure that anyone involved in providing healthcare communicates with patients/caregivers. And those who decide how health information is provided or communicated, is equipped to do so in a culturally safe manner. Are you ready to ensure everyone working on your clinical trial is empowered to do just that? Get in touch to find out about our cultural safety training here at COUCH Health.

This blog was originally published here.

24th March 2021



Company Details

COUCH Health

+44 (0) 330 995 0656

Contact Website

Suite 2.10, Jactin House
24 Hood Street
M4 6WX
United Kingdom

Latest content on this profile

How innovating study sites can improve patient recruitment efficiency
There are so many ways that clinical trials have innovated over the last few years. There is now a larger focus on making trials more patient-centric, more virtualised, and more efficient. Except, there’s one aspect of clinical trials that isn’t so efficient. You guessed it, it’s patient recruitment
COUCH Health
6 reasons patients drop out of clinical trials and 6 ways to fix it
If you’ve successfully recruited patients for your clinical trial, but one by one, they begin to drop out, then this information could be for you.
COUCH Health
Sharing patient stories for World Pulmonary Hypertension Day
For World Pulmonary Hypertension Day and we’re here to help raise awareness of pulmonary hypertension (PH) - a frequently under and misdiagnosed condition. Created in collaboration with the PH patient community, we’re proud to launch a series of emotive videos that help give PH patients a voice and the chance to share their experiences.
COUCH Health
What you can do to help make invisible illnesses more visible?
Before we begin, you might be wondering what exactly an invisible illness is. An invisible illness is an umbrella term for any medical condition that isn't easily visible to others. This can include chronic physical conditions like arthritis and diabetes, or mental illnesses.
COUCH Health
Training for PI's and study staff has to change now
We need to make sure sites receive training that truly focuses on meeting needs.
COUCH Health
#DemandDiversity: Can new medical publication guidelines help fix diversity in clinical trials?
Over the last 8 months, JAMA have been working on a new set of guidelines for research papers looking to publish with them, which is summarised in their latest editorial release, “The Reporting of Race and Ethnicity in Medical and Science Journals”. Substantial changes have been made in the race/ethnicity data section. But what does this mean?
COUCH Health