Two new UF studies get at heart of racial disparities in health care, research
Black men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer and die more often of the disease than any other group of American men, yet there are significant differences among black men in terms of quality of life and outcomes. Now, UF researchers are exploring these differences among groups of culturally diverse black men with prostate cancer, seeking to understand why. Folakemi Odedina, Ph.D., a UF professor of pharmacy and associate director of health disparities for the UF Shands Cancer Center, is leading a three-year study comparing differences in morbidity, quality of life and survival among diverse groups of black men, who experience a 60 percent greater risk of developing prostate cancer than whites, according to the National Cancer Institute.
In interviews with nearly 6,000 residents of five U.S. cities, African-Americans were more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to express an interest in participating in medical research, even if studies involved providing blood or genetic samples. The findings appeared in the American Journal of Public Health. “For years, African-Americans have been underrepresented in research,” said lead investigator Linda Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the department of epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine. “If we’re not getting the participation of diverse groups when we’re studying medications or interventions, then we don’t know how those treatments will work in real life in different populations.” More than 80,000 clinical trials are conducted each year in the United States, yet less than 2 percent of the population participates in them. Women, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities and rural residents are often underrepresented.