As reported in EurekAlert!, Marvella Ford, Ph.D. of the Hollings Cancer Center of the Medical University of South Carolina, as well as eight other cancer centers, has participated in an important study focusing on how to overcome disparities in cancer clinical research. It is well known that minorities (Latinos, African Americans and others) are not well represented in clinical research. Research results must ultimately be generalized across multiple population groups and this is difficult to accomplish today. The research team, including Hollings Cancer Center, summarized the need for innovative strategies to address disparities in clinical trial participation. The care delivery study found centers achieving sustainable high recruitment of racial and ethnic minority groups did so by excelling in:
- Strategic engagement with providers, as they are the most important influence on whether the patient is recruited and participates in clinical trials
- Community leader engagement as a core center function which results in trust and engagement with racial and ethnic minority groups and their care partners
- Seeking dedicated input into cancer clinical research programs, such as feasibility of implementation, from racial and ethnic minority group patients and caregivers.
- Establishing clear, cross-cancer center leadership commitment to quality and hiring practices to ensure the composition of research staff represents the population served, allied with a corresponding development and training culture
A key component in increased inclusion is the development of trust in the community. One tactic Hollings Cancer Center uses is its MOVENUP Program that takes a train-the-trainer approach in rural communities that are medically underserved. This training covers cancer prevention, screening and treatment options and includes a module focused on clinical trials and their vital role in developing new, more effective approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. That program now is being expanded in a new partnership with the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, with monthly programs planned to reach its more than 400 churches spread across the state. The four-hour cancer education training program includes a module on clinical trials.