Our Accomplishments

Increasing Clinical Trials Participation in Underrepresented Populations


Increasing clinical trials participation in South Carolina is an important focus of HSSC. These trials offer hope to patients and families and also provide tremendous opportunities for research collaboration and investment. In 2010, HSSC embarked on a study with the USC Arnold School of Public Health and College of Mass Communication and Information Studies to find ways to increase clinical trials participation among underrepresented groups. Enrollment in clinical trials is particularly low in rural areas, making that population largely underrepresented in medical research.

According to the director of the study, Sei-Hill Kim, associate professor in the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications, researchers explored potential target audiences, examining which population and regions in rural South Carolina are most eligible for, but largely underrepresented in, clinical research. They also examined why trial participation is low in rural areas, looking at cognitive and psychological reasons. HSSC researchers analyzed the communication mechanisms by which clinical trials information is disseminated and the content of the messages.

The purpose, said HSSC President and CEO Jay Moskowitz, is to “ensure that a statewide clinical trials program benefits all of the state’s citizenry, including people living at a distance from academic medical centers and large teaching hospitals.”

Rural citizens experience significant health disparities, with factors such as limited access to healthcare services, lower rate of health insurance, lower socioeconomic and educational status, and cultural and social differences contributing to these disparities. Given that clinical trials can provide patients with the most advanced medical treatments and screening options, the rural population in South Carolina represent those who need opportunities to participate in clinical trials the most. Not having certain segments of the population participate in clinical trials may pose a public health concern.

HSSC believed that cognitive and psychological factors may influence the decision-making process for participation in clinical trials. Many rural residents in South Carolina are less educated, less sophisticated, and thus likely less knowledgeable about participating in clinical trials. It is reasonable to expect that the rural poor are in general more skeptical than others about clinical research. Past abuses combined with perceived discrimination, indifference, and disrespect, have all contributed to the distrust and fear of the medical care system among minority populations.”

The HSSC research project ran for three years. Findings from the study were used to develop and assess a pilot education program about clinical trials in rural South Carolina.


Accomplishment Data

Organizations: Theme:
  • Engagement
    Outcome Measures
  • Clinicians
    Health Care Systems
    Research Organizations