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February 2017

Spectrum of Diversity in Dermatology: The Need to Broaden Clinical Trial Participants in Our Increasingly Multiethnic and Multicultural Society

Author Affiliations
  • 1Innovative Dermatology, PA, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Plano
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Plano
  • 3Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • 4Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest Baptist Health Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(2):132-134. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.4130

The US Census Bureau projections show that by 2060, the non-Hispanic white population will no longer be the majority population in the United States and will be less than 44% with majority-minority crossover occurring around 2044. There will no longer be one population majority but instead a plurality of racial and ethnic groups.1 The underrepresentation of minorities in clinical research has been recognized for many years and resulted in national efforts to increase their participation. Lack of diversity in research participants impacts our ability to generalize results because studies may fail to detect relevant findings in specific groups owing to the effects of their unique mix of environmental, physiological, and cultural factors. The National Institutes of Health, the primary source of federal research funding in the United States, enforces a federal law that requires inclusion of women and minorities in all clinical research studies as appropriate for the scientific goals of proposed work.2 It is important that the scientific community recognize that diversity among research participants is not simply a government requirement but instead a scientific and ethical obligation needed to achieve equality and eliminate health disparities.

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