Please login to the form below

Diversity in clinical trials needs to extend beyond COVID-19 vaccine trials

First up, the hard truth is that clinical trial populations are not diverse. People of certain ethnicities, females and the elderly are typically underrepresented in clinical research. And you might ask, “why?”

While demographics that make us diverse might not be direct barriers themselves, factors relating to them can mean people are unable to take part in clinical trials. For example:

  • Religious and cultural barriers that are more prominent among ethnic minorities
  • Travel and mobility are more likely to be challenging among the elderly
  • Mistrust in the pharmaceutical industry based on historical treatment of ethnic minorities

So yes, there are challenges that lead to a lack of diversity in clinical trials. But there’s still a need to overcome them.

The science behind diversity

You might be wondering why it’s so important for clinical trials to be diverse anyway. Well, people respond to treatments differently based on their ethnicity, gender and age. And on top of that, we think results like these speak for themselves:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is three times more common in women than in men
  • Developing type 2 diabetes is reported to be as much as 6 times higher in South Asians than in Europeans
  • The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is the highest in the world and develops at younger ages than other groups in the U.S

So, for example, if a clinical trial is investigating a treatment for MS, yet the majority of the participants are men, is it really going to help the MS population when women are mostly affected? If clinical trials are investigating high blood pressure treatments, yet do not include African American participants, are the results really going to be representative?

So, firstly, clinical trials need to be diverse to ensure the treatment represents the intended disease population.

Corporate responsibility

All companies have a corporate responsibility to ensure diversity. This includes employees at all levels, who should be truly representative and reflective of the people the organisation serves - this is particularly relevant for pharmaceutical companies! And while diversity itself is important, so is a culture that encourages diversity.

Maximising understanding of patients and consumers

It seems obvious that a diverse workplace would lead to a better understanding of the positioning of a diverse consumer base. But if pharma companies maximise how much they understand and connect with a diverse audience, they’ll be more likely to achieve success.

Increasing trust in the general public

There’s a lack of trust in the pharma industry in general, but it’s more pronounced in certain ethnic groups than white people. For example, the way certain ethnic groups have been treated throughout history has left a lasting effect on people’s perceptions of clinical research throughout the world. So, damage needs to be repaired from previous scandals that have led to pharmaceutical companies having a negative reputation, and work needs to be done with well-considered strategies to help rebuild trust and relationships. Because trust is key, and without it, pharma will achieve limited success.

So, these are the reasons why diversity needs to improve in clinical trials. Wondering where the issue

has come from and how to overcome it? We’ve got the need-to-know information in our white paper, here.

This blog was originally published here:

13th October 2020



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

#DemandDiversity: Black history in clinical trials: It's more than just Tuskegee [Infographic]
Take a look at this infographic showing some of the most notorious clinical trials and medical research in history.
COUCH Health
#DemandDiversity: The science behind diversity
We’re going back to the basics to explain why it’s so important for us to make a change.
COUCH Health
5 reasons clinical trial drop-out rates are on the rise
According to a recent report by the CSDD, patient recruitment rates have been steadily increasing, which is great news! The study found that 77% of clinical trials are now either meeting or exceeding their enrolment targets, in comparison to just 47% in 2012.
COUCH Health
#DemandDiversity: Names erased from history: A dive into black history of clinical research
You might be aware that February is Black History Month in the United States. So, we wanted to take the time to highlight some monumental moments and figures in the black history of clinical trials and medical research and share these with you
COUCH Health
How media portrayal of clinical trials can lead to underrepresentation
We knew that ethnic minority communities were being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and we also knew that ethnic minorities were underrepresented in COVID-19 clinical trials. What we don’t know, however, is why ethnic minority groups weren’t taking part. So, we decided to do some digging.
COUCH Health
Can cultural safety training for sites improve diversity?
Through our Demand Diversity project, we’ve researched how the public is perceiving the industry during a time of heightened awareness, with a large focus on the perspectives of ethnic minority groups and key workers.
COUCH Health