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scientific articles

Attitudes and Beliefs of African Americans toward participation in medical research

key information

source: Journal of General Internal Medicine

year: 1999

authors: Giselle Corbie-Smith, Stephen B. Thomas, Mark V. Williams, Sandra Moody-Ayers


OBJECTIVE: To describe barriers to participation of African Americans in research.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: African-American patients’ attitudes toward medical research were measured. Mistrust of doctors, scientists, and the government was re-ported consistently by the participants. Many participants described concerns about the ethical conduct of clinicians and investigators when poor or minority patients are involved and cited examples of exploitation as supporting evidence for their mistrust of the medical establishment. While participants were clear about the violation of human rights in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, all were misinformed of the historical facts of the study. Few participants understood the concept of informed consent. Participants saw signing the document as relinquishing their autonomy and as a legal protection for physicians. Despite these concerns, participants gave recommendations to improve minority participation in research.

CONCLUSIONS: African-American participants in this study described distrust of the medical community as a prominent barrier to participation in clinical research. Participants de-scribed real and perceived examples of exploitation to sup-port their distrust of researchers. The goal of the consent process, to inform patients of risks and benefits so as to facilitate self-determination, was misinterpreted by these participants. Understanding the importance of interpersonal trust within the clinical relationship may prove to be a significant factor in enhancing participation in clinical trials.

organization: Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga; Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga; Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn

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