The Impact Of Race And Sex Of Study Personnel On The Decision To Participate In Research eInterview with: Christopher J Lindsell, PhD

Vice Chair for Research, Department of Emergency Medicine
Director of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design,
Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training
University of Cincinnati  231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati OH 45267-0769 What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Lindsell: We found that for many patients, the race and sex of the person asking them to be in research can influence whether or not they say yes.

Specifically, we studied almost 160,000 patients screened for clinical research by 89 different study assistants in two Cincinnati hospitals over five years. Our results found that when the person asking the patient if they were willing to be in research was a white male, all black patients, regardless of sex, were about 15% less likely to say yes than white patients.

When the person asking them to be in research was a white female, black patients were about 15% more likely to be willing than white patients. Black patients were about 50% less likely than white patients to be willing to participate in research when asked by a black female. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Lindsell: Social theories about relationships between medical providers or researchers and patients suggest that patients may have more trust in providers who are similar to them in terms of gender and race, but there are few research studies that directly address race and sex differences between medical researchers and patient participants. We were surprised by the results, and they were different than we hypothesized. The biggest limitation is that these data can’t tell us why this is happening—the data can only say that this is what we see. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Lindsell: As researchers, we should be aware of the impact of race and sex on our relationships with study participants. The relationship is much more complicated than we thought it would be, and we hope to conduct further research to better understand the reasons behind our observations. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Lindsell::  It’s important to ensure equal representation of all persons in clinical research. Only by understanding the factors that influence willingness to participate can we begin to prevent bias. Researchers need to better understand the complex relationships to better enfranchise all persons as research participants.


Presented at

The Impact Of Race And Sex Of Study Personnel On The Decision To Participate In Research

Christopher J Lindsell, PhD, Andrew Ruffner, MPH, Carla McTaggert and Christopher Lindsell, PhD.

Presented at Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s annual meeting 2013