Addressing Racial Disparities in Clinical Trial Recruitment: Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH

Alexis Thompson, MD, MPH.

One of the issues surrounding hematology care is the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in clinical trials. At the recent 63rd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH, past President of ASH and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, shared her thoughts on strategies for remedying these disparities so that more inclusive care can be provided for patients with hematologic malignancies.

Oncology Data Advisor: Do you have any advice at the community cancer level for how to promote minority recruitment in clinical trials?

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH: While this issue is going to be complex, I think that trying to identify community partners is very important, as well as being clear on the value to the community that participating in a clinical trial can provide. There are some communities for whom clinical trial participation is quite new. There are others who have historical doubts about their participation in anything that’s related to something that they’re not clear about. I think that identifying people who the community values and who the community trusts and having those people support clinical trial participation is one way to reach them.

Then, we can also look at practical strategies that can make clinical trial participation feasible, including understanding the frequency with which patients need to come to the clinical trial site, as opposed to utilizing telemedicine and mobile phlebotomy. In addition, there are ways to make it more convenient for individuals to get on with their lives while participating in the clinical trial.

I think that it is really important to recognize, in my experience, that people from minority populations are no less inclined to think about research when it’s explained to them in terms that they understand. I’ve been very reassured by their enthusiasm.

About Dr. Thompson

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH, is a Professor of Pediatrics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Medical and Scientific Director of Hematology at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Chicago, Illinois. She is also the Associate Director for Equity and Minority Health at the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center. In addition, Dr. Thompson served as the President of ASH from 2018 to 2019. She has served on regional and national advisory committees for governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations focused on improving health care access, increasing workforce diversity, and reducing health disparities.

For More Information

American Society of Hematology (2021). Diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care. Available at:

Al Hadidi S, Schinke C, Thanendrarajan S, et al (2021). Enrollment of Black Americans in pivotal clinical trials supporting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy approval in hematological malignancies [oral presentation]. Presented at: 63rd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition. Abstract 566.

Hantel A, Kohlschmidt J, Eisfeld AK, et al (2021). Race-ethnic enrollment disparities over 15 years of Alliance/CALGB acute myeloid leukemia clinical trials, biobanks, and correlative science protocols [oral presentation]. Presented at: 63rd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition. Abstract 111.

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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