06Jun

Minority representation in clinical trials is an issue the coronavirus vaccine trials has brought out of medical publications and journals and into the broader media.

In just the last few weeks, discussions of the need to ensure Black, Hispanic, Asian and other ethnic minority participation in the trials have appeared on NPRABCCNBC and elsewhere.

“If Black people have been the victims of COVID-19, we’re going to be the key to unlocking the mystery of COVID-19,” Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, told the Los Angeles Times.

Recruiting minorities for clinical trials is not a new issue. Five years ago, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research began publishing demographic summaries of clinical trials. The reports are in response to a Congressional mandate “to report on the diversity of participants in clinical trials and the extent to which safety and effectiveness data is based on demographic factors such as sex, age, and race.”

A recent article on the pharmaceutical news site PMLive carried the headline “If our patients are diverse, why are clinical trials so white?” The article notes that, “Although 20% of the people living with multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells) in the US are African Americans, they only account for 6% of all patients in clinical trials.”

Clinical trial managers and researchers are making an effort to diversify their patient volunteers. Writing in Stat, Jocelyn Ashford, a patient advocate and trial recruiter, says creating an inclusive clinical trial requires engaging “the target community in discussions around the recruitment plan. By bringing these communities to the table early, we can hear their input instead of making assumptions about how to best reach them.”

In recruiting Black participants, she’s reached out to historically Black fraternities and sororities. “These organized groups of educated, social-minded individuals are looking to give back to their communities and can act as bridges to their parents, grandparents, and the Black community more broadly.”

Forbes last year suggested that a key to increasing minority representation is to make it easier for minorities to participate by designing ways to gather the data via wearables. It’s also important, says the Forbes article, that clinical trial investigators themselves be representative of different groups.

Citing a Clinical Research Pathways report on “Diversity in Clinical Trials,” Forbes observes that “patients from minority communities are more likely to enroll when they learn about studies from doctors in their own communities.”

For the earliest of the COVID trials, Moderna is getting help from Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He has a record of successfully recruiting minority trial volunteers, according to Kaiser Health News.

Said del Rios, “We’re trying to do our best to get out to the communities that are most at risk.”

Photo by Fadil Fauzi on Unsplash

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Nurses Find New Mission Running Testing Sites

Nurses sidelined by the coronavirus are finding a new mission staffing the drive-in testing facilities that are rapidly opening all over the country.

When governments ordered non-essential businesses to close to help limit the spread of COVID-19, doctors’ offices, ambulatory surgical centers and clinics were among them. Elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery, knee and hip replacements and cataract removal were cancelled.

Many of these RNs were redeployed providing in-patient care. Others went to work opening and managing testing centers.

Nurse.com article describes what it’s like to make the transition from hands-on patient care to hands-off testing.

“I think that feels weird to people,” says Kadie Randel, at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Idaho. Nursing manager at the hospital’s Primary Care Pediatrics, she now is lead RN at one of the health system’s testing centers in the state.

Halfway across the country, Melissa Bacon, nurse manager of the Cleveland Clinic’s Twinsburg Family Health and Surgery Center, now runs the Clinic’s drive-thru testing site in Cleveland, overseeing some 40 staff.

“As many healthcare systems, we had to adapt to this new world of COVID-19, so many of the employees have been deployed to other places to support the needs of our COVID-19 patients,” she told Nurse.com.

Medical assistants comprise most of the test site team, Bacon said. Other hospital professionals from nursing education, infection prevention and quality support the drive-thru testers teaching “about proper donning and doffing of PPE, what PPE is needed for each testing site patient care role, as well as proper swabbing technique.”

The same is true at the Boise, Idaho site, said Randel. “People have been very willing to step up and learn and to take on this challenging situation.”

Working at a drive-in test site is very different. Besides being covered with masks, face shields, gowns and gloves for most of the day, being outside presents its own unique challenges, she said.

“We’re in the Rocky Mountains. It can be gorgeous and 75 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next,” she explained, adding the facility had to close one day because of high winds. “And of course we’ll close for lightening, but otherwise we’re staying open.”

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

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Green Key