Monday, October 06, 2003

Minority children: over- or underrepresented in medical research?

There's an excellent news release from the University of Chicago today about the participation of minority children in research studies. African-American children are overrepresented (in comparison to their percentage of the total population) in clinical trials, while Hispanic and white children are underrepresented. The last four paragraphs of the release are the most provocative:
Both black and Hispanic children were overrepresented in research on topics that were potentially stigmatizing, such as studies of child abuse, high-risk behaviors or HIV. Fifteen percent of the U.S. population is black but 30 percent of the children in potentially stigmatizing research studies were African American. While 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, only 10 percent of the children in medical research were Hispanic, and 17 percent of those involved in potentially stigmatizing studies.

"There are possibly benign and not so benign explanations for these findings," Ross said. "Our data could not distinguish. Clearly, black and Hispanic children should be overrepresented in AIDS research as they account for 82 percent of all reported pediatric AIDS cases. On the other hand, there are data to suggest that there is racial and ethnic bias in who is questioned about child abuse."

Why black children were more likely to be involved in clinical research is unclear. One possible explanation may simply be that academic medical centers are disproportionately located in urban centers where minorities live. The authors note that the ongoing shift of clinical research from major medical centers to smaller, suburban, private practices, could reverse this trend.

They conclude on a cautionary note. "Despite the participation of minority children in research, there are data that show that these benefits are not being translated into their clinical care. This should be a top priority." (emphasis added)
posted by tommayo, 8:38 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter