FSU Researchers Seek Minority Participants For Diabetes Study

Oct 31, 2014

The FSU study asks participants with Type 2 diabetes to eat two apples per day. Previous studies indicate apple can improve cardiovascular health.
Credit kobiz7 via Flickr

It could be that it takes two apples per day to keep the doctor away. Florida State University researchers are using a clinical trial to look at how eating apples affects Type 2 diabetes. It’s a disease disproportionately affecting minorities. So the Tallahassee team is working to increase ethnic diversity among its participants.

Historically, minority ethnic groups have been underrepresented in clinical trials—those are studies that can lead to cures for diseases. Sarah Johnson is a researcher at FSU’s College of Human Sciences, and she’s looking for participants with Type 2 diabetes. Her clinical trial asks people to eat two apples per day for three months.

But Johnson says it can be a challenge to recruit participants who might benefit the most,“Especially with Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, because African Americans and Hispanics and other underrepresented groups tend to be at an even greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes."

Johnson says clinical trial researchers are fighting against a historical stigma. She says people sometimes mistakenly believe the studies are last-ditch efforts for patients who are dying. But in reality, she says, they can involve healthy participants and lead to scientific advances that benefit all people. Plus, participants are paid. 

"It’s a good, free way to potentially improve your health," she says. "You are getting access to testing that is often very expensive and people don’t always have access to.”

Johnson is partnering with the national “I’m In” campaign to raise awareness of the need for minority participation in clinical trials. It’s sponsored by a pharmaceutical trade association and the National Minority Quality Forum, a group working to eliminate health disparities between racial groups.