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Why Clinical Trials Benefit from Diverse Applicants

Posted by PCC Institute for Health Professionals on June 07, 2022


Medical treatments go through rigorous testing before approval because doctors, patients, and all relevant parties want to know they can rely on those treatments.

Indeed, there are occasional side effects and reasons why someone isn't the right fit for the treatment, but medical professionals must know the exceptions before approving treatments for broader use. So how do they ensure that their clinical trials effectively give them the information they need to rely on the treatments down the road?

One of the significant ways to ensure they collect sound data is through diverse applicants in their clinical research studies. Having applicants from all walks of life helps increase confidence in the treatment's effectiveness across all people. If there are disparities in clinical results, such as different outcomes for one gender versus another, doctors and patients must have that information before opting into the final version of the treatment. Diverse trials can help researchers adjust the formulation and timing of a treatment to create a final protocol that works as well as possible for many people.

What Is a Diverse Population?

For clinical research, applicant pool diversity refers to having representative amounts of both genders, all races, and as wide an age range as possible. If the treats multiple variations of the same illness or condition, you'd need to make sure those are also present.

Applicant diversity occasionally depends on the condition, such as those that appear in people 50 years or older. In such a case, recruit younger applicants to ensure treatment is effective for people who developed the condition earlier. However, if the condition affects all ages but the trial has only recruited people over 50, you need to recruit applicants to understand the full age range. Doctors would want to know, for instance, if this treatment was approved, whether they could safely and reliably administer it to a 25-year-old as a 50-year-old.

The Broader the Study, The Bigger the Impact of Diverse Applicants

If there are vanishingly rare illnesses with small clinical trials, the issues of diversity in the applicant pool may not be possible to remedy. There may not be full diversity in the early clinical trials for understanding illnesses or conditions with only a few dozen formally diagnosed people.

The opposite, however, is also true. For major studies, creating clinical trials for common conditions like heart disease and the most prevalent cancers, diverse pools of applicants are both possible and highly recommended. The additional work ensuring your clinical trial includes diverse participants increases the treatment's applicability in significant ways. It helps you boost medical confidence that it effectively treats a range of demographics.

That is also an essential factor in vaccine trials. Substantial population diversity in clinical research trials for new or updated vaccines increases confidence in the vaccine. It also helps medical professionals identify any concerns with the vaccine before distribution. Vaccines offer valuable immunity to debilitating and even deadly illnesses, but without widespread understanding that vaccines are safe for all populations, it's much harder to let them do their jobs.

For Smaller Studies, Find the Diverse Applicants Within the Range of the Condition

You might ask why clinical research needs diverse populations when a condition only seems to afflict one gender in a small age range? The key to diverse applicants is finding the range within the condition. For instance, if an illness doesn't impact men, it's unnecessary to put funding to study a treatment for men. But if, for instance, the condition affects all ethnicities, finding applicants from multiple ethnicities helps you verify you've found applicants who represent the range of the condition.

Foundations of Clinical Research Prepares You to Administer Diverse Clinical Research Trials

Understanding population diversity in clinical research trials is only part of what the Foundations of Clinical Research program covers at Portland Community College. They designed this program in collaboration with Portland's leading research teams. It focuses on the lack of training availability to take existing healthcare professionals and gives them the tools they need to succeed as part of a clinical research team.

The Foundations of Clinical Research course offers a well-rounded curriculum that prepares healthcare professionals to understand the many essential priorities in clinical trials, including why clinical research needs diverse populations. By working with seasoned clinical researchers, PCC students gain first-hand knowledge that dovetails into being an excellent fit for local work in the field. Sign up today!

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Topics: Clinical Research

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