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COVID-19 Treatment Trial Reaches Out to Communities of Color

Posted on April 5th, 2021 by in COVID-19

An ongoing problem in clinical trials over the years has been a failure to procure diverse enough representation among the participants. For a long time, this was due to bias and oversight on the part of the research community, and the consequence was a lack of full understanding in how medications and treatments affected women and various racial/ethnic minorities.

More recently, scientific and medical researchers have gained an awareness of this problem and many have sought to rectify it by recruiting more diverse populations for trials. However, challenges have remained. Practical concerns with participating in a study (e.g. not being able to get off work, not having a car), as well as financial concerns (e.g. not being able to afford childcare during appointments) can sometimes hamper participation. Some minorities also have a very understandable distrust of studies because of past abuses like the infamous Tuskegee experiment.

When the NIH launched the ACTIV-2 trial, a large study seeking interventions for COVID-19, researchers knew that it was imperative that they be able to recruit plenty of black and Latino participants. While this is important in any trial, it seemed especially critical for a Covid treatment, considering that the disease has had an alarmingly outsized impact on non-white populations.

“From the very first time we spoke with the leaders of this study, even before they engaged with us as their creative AOR, they were really stressing the importance of recruiting within the communities of color that have been so disproportionately affected by COVID-19, in terms of illness and terms of death,” Amy Gomez of Klick Health told Med Ad News in an interview.

The agency created the Rise Above Covid campaign to reach out to members of these communities. The campaign has focused on utilizing local and targeted media sources, and they have also sought to communicate their message in a way that speaks to the values of those communities. As is evident just in looking at the Rise Above Covid website, there is also a theme of empowerment and determination that emphasizes action over fear when it comes to confronting COVID-19.

One creative strategy that the campaign recently began employing is centered on black-owned barbershop and salon owners, and leveraging the voices of these entrepreneurs in their respective communities to help get the word out. Participants get information and swag from the campaign to pass on, of course, but more importantly they learn directly from doctors about the ACTIV-2 study so that they can share their informed opinion with their customers.

“We realize the importance of trusted sources, the reality that no matter how compelling the evidence, many people in communities-of-color want to hear an unequivocal endorsement of a medical intervention directly from a voice they trust,” Dr. Lance Okeke, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke University and investigator for the trial, told the Electronic Urban Report.

Anybody reading this can help get the word out too! If you or anyone you know has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days, you may be able to help. Visit here to learn more or find a study site near you.

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