In December 2015, a study published in Plos Medicine concluded that clinical trials are not representative of diversity in the U.S. Based on 2010 census figures, nearly 40% of the population belongs to a racial or ethnic minority. In contrast, clinical trial populations tend to be more homogeneous. African Americans make up only 5% of clinical trial participants, while representing 12% of the U.S. population. A greater disparity exists among Hispanics, who represent 16% of the U.S. population, but only 1% of clinical trial participants.
Clinical research needs to fully reflect broader populations for many important reasons. While all drugs have some side effects, they may be more pronounced in some population segments. Certain drugs don’t work as well in some parts of the population and some diseases are more prevalent among minority groups.
In spite of the disparities, the proportion of participants in clinical trials from some minority groups has increased in recent years, and many sponsors are successfully increasing population diversity in their current research efforts. Minority patient recruitment is a frequently-requested capability of Clariness. We are often asked about our experience and our ability to target specific populations, especially in the U.S.
From micro-targeting to advanced analytics in digital advertising, there is more opportunity than ever to zero in on specific populations for effective minority patient recruitment. With the amount of user data available to digital ad networks and social media platforms, we have the ability to show ads only to groups who may be eligible for a trial. Around the world, but especially in the U.S., it is easy to target specific populations both directly and indirectly.
In the case of Facebook, where users often self-identify with the information they choose to provide in their profiles, you can directly target these groups with advertising.
Using Google Display Network, you can target specific groups indirectly with advertising, by overlaying targeting filters such as location, language topics and certain websites. Users don’t always self-identify, but patterns emerge with user behavior that can be compared with aggregate patterns of the target group. After enough campaign data are collected, the conversion optimizer decides which placements are best for your target audience based on conversion data.
Based on recent experience in the U.S., the combination of Facebook and Google are two highly effective channel tactics. Outside the U.S., the targeted use of display networks and manual placement based on topics, selective news and demographic data have been equally effective.
Outreach to under-represented groups is clearly on the rise in clinical trials. Convincing these populations to participate in clinical trials may be the next hurdle. That’s where patient research and engagement come in. Sponsors need to understand the barriers to research among these populations, and determine what steps can be taken to encourage more participation. Clariness can help you to reach and engage with specific groups all over the world.
For more information on this topic, read our white paper.