Clinical studies must draw subjects from a diverse cross-section
The results of clinical research should be generalised for the population, because of the ethical reasons and providing treatment that appeal to people all over the world. The importance of including diversity is that the results obtained from the study benefit the entire population.
Before trying to understand the importance of diversity in clinical research, one should know the meaning of “diversity” in the context of clinical research. Diversity in clinical research means including people from various backgrounds and experiences in a study.
Factors like age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and economic conditions are included for classifying a group of people for the research. The reason for introducing diversity in the research is to provide results that are beneficial for the population as a whole, and are not biased toward a particular section of society.
Diversity plays an important role in making sure that the results of clinical research are universal. The study should include people from all race and ethnic groups. This maintains the generalization and the findings from this study benefits everyone.
However, if a single category of population based on age or race is considered, then this will not benefit the other sections of the population. Besides the universal benefits of diversity in clinical research, it is also necessary for ethical reasons. The advantage and dangers of the study should be equitably divided among the population.
For example, a study done on a particular gender will benefit only them and will restrict the benefits of other genders. Diversity is important because it helps in analyzing how treatment influences people of different groups. A medicine suitable for children might not effectively work on adults.
Another issue is that the clinical researchers might belong to a similar background and do not have any idea about other groups of people and their experiences. This situation can affect the outcome of the study and it might incline the group of the people that designed it. For example, if the group of researchers is a group of men, the result will be inclined towards men and vice versa.
Various ways can help deal with the challenges and will encourage diversity in clinical research. Initially, the depreciated group of people should be enlisted in the study, and efforts for their benefit should be conducted. Next, an awareness programme should be launched for the clinical researchers — where they should learn about the diversity, needs, and experiences of people from different groups and perform their studies accordingly.
At last, the diversity in clinical research should be monitored and evaluated regularly and deal with any challenges that might occur.
In community-based participatory research (CBPR), all the members of the community are involved in the research. It develops understanding and trust among researchers and people from different communities. This creates a relationship and increases the engagement of people in clinical research and their understanding.
Finally, diversity is necessary for clinical research, because it secures the results that constitute all the groups of people in the world. The generalisation of the result is important, and ethical, and should be able to find the different ways in which treatment might affect the people of all groups. A lot of challenges might make diversity a difficult task to include in clinical trials, but there are many ways through which diversity can be promoted and provide benefits to all sections of society.
(The author is Co-founder, DPHS Pvt. Ltd)