The African-Americans are susceptible to broad arrays of diseases more than any other social group in America. These diseases include stomach cancer, high blood-pressure, stroke, and diabetes among others. The problem is that African-Americans are not actively involved in clinical research trials which offer the most appropriate way to determine the effectiveness of new treatments.
African-Americans are enrolled in clinical research that does not require them to give informed consent. Swetlitz (2018) posits that scientists have been allowed to conduct experiments without obtaining consent from patients undergoing emergency medical procedures and are incapable of physically responding. The Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis is perhaps one of the most notable ethical and historical issues in researching African-Americans. The examination was purposefully designed to examine the nature of untreated syphilis among African American men in Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama (Swetlitz, 2018). The research was unethical because the black men were injected with the virus causing syphilis without prior knowledge. Besides, the subjected were recruited on the ground of false promises and were denied anesthesia and antibiotics. They were also recruited without their informed consent.
The ethical protection is anchored on ethical principles protecting human rights and dignity. Foremost, respect for anonymity and confidentiality is aimed at protecting dignity and fidelity. Therefore, identities and responses of African-Americans participating in clinical research should be protected and treated with utmost confidentiality to guard against victimization, discrimination, and stigma. Second, the principle of beneficence that protects the subjects against harm. The clinical research these people participate should better serve and promote their welfare. Third, the informed consent attempt to protect dignity and ensures only willing subjects participate in a study. Therefore, the African-American subjects should knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently participate in clinical studies by giving consent.
Involvement of more African-American subjects can be enhanced by educating the community members about the significance of the research studies. In this way, the minority community is told how clinical research attempt to determine the effectiveness of new treatment to address myriad health problems they experience. Furthermore, Hughes et al. (2017) propose scientists can use positive life stories about how research has benefited different communities within the American society. Therefore, the personal success stories will persuade African-Americans to be part of the change they desire among themselves.
The recent efforts to improve the health and well-being of people in the United States can only be achieved through heightened awareness on cultural diversity. It is important to ensure equal sample representation to ensure research findings also help the historically neglected communities.
Hughes, T., Varma, V., Pettigrew, C. and Albert, M. (2017). African Americans and clinical research: Evidence concerning barriers and facilitators to participation and recruitment recommendations. The Gerontologist, 57(2), 348-358. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnv118.
Swetlitz, I. (2018). African-Americans are disproportionately enrolled in studies that don’t require informed consent. Stat News. Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2018/10/01/african-americans-clinical-trials/.