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New GCI Health Survey Examines Barriers to Black Women’s Participation in Clinical Trials

NEW YORK, November 14, 2023 — GCI Health released new research today that provides insight into Black women’s participation in clinical trials and challenges assumptions that have fueled their lack of representation. The survey revealed that 80% of Black women are open to participating in clinical trials, yet 73% have never been asked, suggesting that access to information is the largest barrier to participation, rather than mistrust in the medical establishment, as commonly believed. GCI Health undertook the research as part of its work to transform clinical trials and improve health outcomes for marginalized communities through communications.

“We often hear that Black women are missing from clinical research because they are ‘hard-to-reach’ or reluctant to participate due to mistrust of the medical establishment,” said Kianta Key, Group Senior Vice President and Head of Identity Experience at GCI Health. “In talking with women, we heard something more layered and nuanced that deserved exploration.”

Key Survey Findings:

The survey of 500 Black women ages 18 and older also revealed that even though nearly one-third of those surveyed live with a chronic health condition or disability, 64% of these women had never been asked to participate in a clinical trial.

In looking at perceptions and experiences around clinical trials, most women surveyed were positive to neutral about clinical trials, with 49% having positive to somewhat positive perception and 41% having neither a positive nor negative perception. Only a small percentage (10%) had a negative perception. Interestingly, among respondents who had participated in a clinical trial, 67% reported having a good or exceptional experience.

In contrast to the belief that historical and contemporary mistreatment of Black people in healthcare are the leading factors for non-participation in clinical trials, the survey found that the top two reasons for non-participation were fear of side effects (66%) and trial site too far (47%).

The survey also revealed that what might influence Black women to participate in a clinical trial extends beyond the doctor’s office. For Black women under the age of 39, the top influencers were a celebrity, media outlet or someone they follow on social media; for Black women in their 40s and 50s, it was their self-care team (e.g., hair stylist), media outlet or friend/family member; and for Black women 60+, it was a healthcare team member, family member/friend or patient advocacy group.

GCI Health’s Clinical Trial offering aims to transform trial recruitment and advance health equity through its Identity Experience (IX) framework. The agency’s focus on inclusive clinical trial recruitment strategies aligns with new draft guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase trial diversity.

“Our industry has a responsibility to reverse years of underrepresentation in clinical trials and do more to support better healthcare outcomes for Black women,” says Kristin Cahill, Global CEO, GCI Group. “Equity is critical to ensure new treatments and health interventions work for everyone. This research helps get us closer to understanding what needs to be done to make positive changes that will save lives and create healthier communities.”
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GCI Health conducted a comprehensive device-agnostic 39-question online survey in August 2023 to a representative sample of Black women. Findings are based on 500 responses from Black women ages 18 and older across 38 states in the U.S.

About GCI Health
GCI Health is one of the most highly recognized global integrated healthcare communications agencies in the world, with recent industry honors including being named PRWeek Global International Agency of the Year (2021), MM+M PR Agency of the Year (2021), PRovoke Media Global Healthcare PR Agency of the Year (2020), PRovoke Media Agency of the Decade (2020) and several global “Best Place to Work For” awards. Follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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Danielle Dunne