“There's not enough studies”: Views of black breast and ovarian cancer patients on research participation

Kirsten A. Riggan, Abigail Rousseau, Michele Halyard, Sarah E. James, Marion Kelly, Daphne Phillips, Megan A. Allyse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Black breast and ovarian cancer patients are underrepresented in clinical cancer trials disproportionate to the prevalence of these cancers in Black females. Historically, lower enrollment has been attributed to individualized factors, including medical mistrust, but more recently structural factors, including systemic racism, have received additional scrutiny. We interviewed Black women with a personal or family history of breast and ovarian cancer to understand their views and experiences related to research participation. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted via telephone or video conference and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were qualitatively analyzed for iterative themes related to the offer and participation in cancer clinical trials and research studies, impact on cancer care, and recommendations to increase enrollment of Black patients. Results: Sixty-one Black women completed an interview. Participants expressed that Black women are underrepresented in cancer research, and that this negatively impacted their own care. Many cited past historical abuses, including the Tuskegee syphilis trial, as a potential factor for lower enrollment but suggested that lower enrollment was better understood in the context of the entirety of their healthcare experiences, including present-day examples of patient mistreatment or dismissal. Participants suggested that proactive community engagement, transparency, and increased representation of Black research team members were strategies likely to foster trust and bolster research participation. Conclusion(s): Medical mistrust is only a partial factor in the lower participation of Black patients in cancer research. Researchers should implement the strategies identified by our participants to promote diverse enrollment and ensure that Black patients are included in future therapeutic advances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8767-8776
Number of pages10
JournalCancer medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • breast cancer
  • clinical cancer research
  • community outreach
  • women's cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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