Mercy Health participates in pilot equity program

Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital announced Wednesday it was one of 75 research sites in the nation invited to take part in a pilot program that aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trial participants. The program began over the summer and will run through October.

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) invited the hospital to take part in the project. ASCO and ACCC said in a news release the project is part of an initiative to see that every patient with cancer can participate in research. The groups’ mission is initially focusing on patients who are Black and/or Hispanic or Latinx.

John Montville, Lourdes Hospital oncology service line director, said diversity matters when choosing patients to participate in clinical trials.

“Understanding how a drug works and its potential side effects can differ by ethnic group. By including a wide range of people in clinical trials, we can be more confident about the results those drugs will have for anyone who might need them,” Montville said.

As part of the program, the hospital will test a research site self-assessment tool, which helps research sites conduct an internal review of policies, procedures and programs that may impact the patients who are chosen for and offered a clinical trial. Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital will also test a virtual implicit bias training program, which will help sites acknowledge and lessen the impact a research or care team’s implicit bias has in selecting clinical trial patients.

According to the American Cancer Society, Black patients with cancer in the U.S. face more illnesses, worse outcomes and premature death when compared with other races with cancer. The American Cancer Society also said Black patients with cancer experience the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers in the U.S., and Black patients also face greater challenges in preventing, detecting, tracing and surviving cancer.

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