Exploring Willingness to Participate in Clinical Trials by Ethnicity

  • Katrina L. ParieraEmail author
  • Sheila T. Murphy
  • Jingbo Meng
  • Margaret L. McLaughlin


African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are disproportionately affected by cancer, yet underrepresented in cancer clinical trials. Because of this, it is important to understand how attitudes and beliefs about clinical trials vary by ethnicity. A national, random sample of 860 adults was given an online survey about attitudes toward clinical trials. We examined willingness to participate in clinical trials, attitudes toward clinical trials, trust in doctors, attitudes toward alternative and complementary medicine, and preferred information channels. Results indicate that African-American and Hispanic-American participants have more negative attitudes about clinical trials, more distrust toward doctors, more interest in complementary and alternative medicine, and less willingness to participate in clinical trials than white/non-Hispanics, although specific factors affecting willingness to participate vary. The channels people turn to for information on clinical trials also varied by ethnicity. These results help explain the ethnic disparities in cancer clinical trial enrollment by highlighting some potential underlying causes and drawing attention to areas of importance to these groups.


Clinical trials Ethnicity Trust Information sources Hispanic-American African-American 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Annenberg Schools for Communication at the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania and the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands for their contributions to the Annenberg National Health Communication Survey.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. All procedures performed in this study were approved by the institution review board.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrina L. Pariera
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sheila T. Murphy
    • 2
  • Jingbo Meng
    • 3
  • Margaret L. McLaughlin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Organizational Sciences and CommunicationThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication and JournalismUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of CommunicationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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