A Statewide Strategy
Clinical trials are medical research studies in humans that have produced advances in prevention and diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for many diseases. Clinical trials are very complex and are always carefully planned and implemented. They require strict scientific methods in order to produce results that can be reliable and trusted.
There are many examples where the results of clinical trials have produced improvements in health. One example of a group of diseases where clinical trials have produced improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment is cancer.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and disproportionally affects African Americans and other underserved communities, including Native Americans and rural populations. These populations experience higher incidence and mortality rates for certain cancers, poor access to quality cancer treatment and lower participation in cancer clinical trials than nonminority populations.
Access to cutting edge advances and state-of-the art care that clinical trials provide are not always available or inclusive of people in underserved communities for many reasons. Lack of participation of diverse communities in clinical trials is a national concern. These inequities in research participation contribute to health disparities. Clinical trials are an essential resource for advancing disease prevention and diagnosis, treatment modalities and methods to improve pain management and palliative care as well as quality of life. Disparities in research participation are a national concern.
For cancer, as an example, only 3 to 5% of patients participate in clinical trials and although ethnic and racial minority groups experience higher rates for certain cancers and mortality, these groups as well as rural communities are underrepresented in cancer clinical trials.
At the University of Maryland School of Medicine Office of Policy and Planning, it is our hope that increased awareness and increased public trust in research through MPACT©, can bridge this gap in trial participation for many diseases. One of the goals of this year's 6th Annual Scientific Forum on Cancer and Other Tobacco-Related Diseases, held on 23 October, was to emphasize the importance of public trust in research and diversity in clinical trials participation. During the Forum, the Maryland Program for Advancing Clinical Trials or MCPACT© was officially launched. MPACT© is a statewide strategy to educate the community and foster public trust in clinical trials and research.
By launching MPACT©, it is our aim to educate Maryland citizens and local health professionals, to raise awareness and increase public trust in research and the importance of diversity in clinical trials participation. Providing greater information and education will assist communities in making informed decisions about clinical trials.