People from ethnic minorities are reported to have higher rates of physical illness (diabetes and ischemic heart disease) and mental disorders. Disparities relate not just to diagnosis, but also to care pathways and treatment outcomes. Despite this, they are underrepresented in clinical research. This reduces the generalisability of research findings across multi ethnic populations and hinders the development of accessible services. Researchers often face difficulties in recruiting ethnic minority participants to clinical research due to low levels of cultural competence and limited resources. There are few published trials focusing on ethnic minorities in the UK and we need to understand what recruitment strategies have already been implemented and recommended when recruiting ethnic participants. This will help researchers in applying these lessons to future clinical trials.
To identify strategies for recruiting ethnic minorities to clinical trials in the UK a systematic review of published randomised controlled trials (RCT) exclusively targeting ethnic minorities was conducted. Multiple databases were searched by combining the terms “ethnic minorities”, “randomised controlled trials” and “United Kingdom”. Data was extracted on recruitment strategies described by each RCT and then themes were created.
Twenty-one included RCT's identified various strategies to recruit ethnic communities to clinical trials. These have been described under three overarching themes; adaptation of screening and outcome measures, culturally specific recruitment training and recruitment processes.
The review highlighted that researchers employed limited strategies to enhance the recruitment level. The full extent of the use of strategies was not described well in the publications. There is a need for wider training and support for the trialist to enhance and build up recruitment skills to facilitate the recruitment of ethnic minorities to clinical trials.