Duke Clinical Research Institute and MMG
Increasing Diversity in Clinical Trials

For a clinical trial to investigate if drugs approved for other conditions might also help people with COVID-19 recover, Duke Clinical Research Institute needed a way to increase diversity, ensuring that Black and Hispanic individuals make up about 20% of its participants. 

It sought an audience of those older than 30 who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days and were experiencing at least two symptoms, but it faced many challenges. First, interest in the pandemic had begun to ebb, and case levels had declined. It had to navigate politically biased narratives and inherent mistrust of clinical trials. And because national targeting was cost prohibitive, it had to find hot spots using geo-targeted media. 

The institute zeroed in on areas with low vaccination rates using prominent “Participate from home” messaging and smart intersectional targeting. And it took cultural and political data trends as a solution to populations willing to participate, knowing that unvaccinated individuals were more likely to suffer from severe cases and seek treatment. People in these areas also tend to lean toward politically conservative perspectives. And while that often meant they’d have negative feelings toward medical and research institutions, there was also positive sentiment for access to Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment, one of the drugs being investigated by the study.

And the trial shifted as the virus changed, keeping up with hot spots. The trial exceeded its goal of 20% diversity, ultimately reaching 25%. And even as interest in the disease ebbed throughout 2022, its website and enrollment metrics remained constant.


Rand and Everyday Health Group Pregnancy & Parenting
Tele-MILC Study

Only 38% of moms are still nursing when babies reach 6 months — and even fewer women of color. When attempts to ensure 33% of its recruitment group was Black and Latina failed, Rand regrouped. It used first-party data and branded emails, stressing free expert support and ease of participation. It met objectives 10 months ahead of schedule.