Blog post

People of color and clinical trials: Why it matters

Historically, people of color are underrepresented in clinical trials. But kidney failure disproportionately impacts Black people and Hispanics.
People of color and clinical trials

Clinical trials are research studies that study the effectiveness of new treatments. Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can approve new medical products, experimental medications and therapies are tested in controlled environments on the people most likely to use them. This process enables FDA and medical product developers to ensure that medical products are safe and that they work for their intended uses.

Clinical trials are critical to developing better treatments for diseases affecting people of color, like diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. It is known that people of color can respond differently to medical products — drugs, biologics, devices — so representation matters as we aim to close health disparities diseases disproportionately impacting communities of color.

Historically, people of color have been underrepresented in clinical trials. This is unfortunate because kidney failure disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic people. For example, 35% of Black people suffer from kidney failure, and Hispanics have experienced a 70% increase in kidney failure cases since 2000. 

Many barriers have been documented as to why people of color do not participate in clinical trials, such as mistrust and distrust of the medical system, the perception that people of color are not eligible or lack of monetary compensation, to name a few. Here in the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, we are committed to creating a world where health equity is a reality for all. One of our flagship campaigns is "Diversity in Clinical Trials," which is an office priority area. We are raising awareness about the importance of having diverse people join a clinical trial. We are helping combat myths by giving credible, culturally and linguistically tailored materials so our consumers can make informed decisions about their health.

We have developed a multi-media health education campaign about the importance of people of color's representation in clinical trials to ensure that medical products are safe and effective for everyone. A variety of tools and resources were developed, and we also have an active presence on social media, spreading positive reinforcing messages. Our materials are translated into other languages, like Spanish, to ensure accessibility for everyone. We are committed to closing the health equity gap, reaching millions of consumers and serving as a credible source of information. Our team works tirelessly, adding and developing new resources to our toolbox to meet our consumers' needs. We encourage you to visit our clinical trials webpage to learn more.

Jovonni Spinner was the featured speaker in AKF's webinar, Clinical Trials and Kidney Disease. The webinar is available on-demand on AKF's website. Jovonni is the Lead for the Outreach and Communications Team in the Office of Minority Health overseeing the strategic direction of the team, advising senior officials on minority health, and leading the Diversity in Clinical Trials Initiative.


Cariny Nuñez

Cariny Nuñez, MPH, CHRM, COR, is a senior public health advisor for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) within the Office of the Commissioner; she’s the co-lead for the Outreach and Communications Program within FDA OMHHE and the agency’s lead for the Language Access Program.

Jovonni Spinner

Jovonni R. Spinner, MPH, CHES is senior public health advisor at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and lead for the outreach and communications team in the Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE).