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It’s time to reappraise recruitment of South Asians to clinical trials

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 03 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:46
  1. Brian D Gammon, research nurse1,
  2. Ashan Gunarathne, research registrar in cardiology2
  1. 1Sandwell Medical Research Unit, Sandwell General Hospital, Birmingham
  2. 2University Department of Medicine, City Hospital, Birmingham
  1. Correspondence to: A Gunarathne ashan{at}

    Despite a policy of inclusiveness in health care, the United Kingdom has made little progress in improving overall health among marginalised groups.1 There is a pressing need for clinical studies among South Asian, black, and other ethnic minority groups to aid the development of targeted strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease. A 1991 study, for example, showed that South Asians—then 4% of the total UK population—bore a disproportionately high burden of mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke.2 Health issues associated with the ageing of Britain’s ethnic minority population mean that new policy initiatives are urgently needed. Despite this urgency, however, this group is very rarely the focus of clinical investigations to prevent the adverse consequences of this disease burden.

    The reasons often given for South Asians’ lack of access to clinical trials include language difficulties, poorer access to health care, deprivation, alleged institutional discrimination, and a lack of cross cultural understanding and cultural competence.3 The South Asian population in the West Midlands, for …

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