Social Equity, Group Identity, and the Medical Management of Difference

Award Year:
Steven Epstein
Human Subjects Research, Social Equity
Federal policy changes, which include greater numbers of women and racial minorities in government-funded clinical trials, were designed to improve the health of these groups. Dr. Epstein explores the origins and consequences of incorporating gender and race variables into the design and evaluation of NIH-funded clinical trials and in trials of new drugs submitted for FDA approval. The intent is to: 1) identify the pressures that brought about these new "inclusionary" policies, which supplanted the prior focus of medical research almost exclusively on white men; 2) assess the impact of these policies on diversifying medical research; and 3) analyze the costs, benefits, ethical, and practical implications of biomedical diversity and equity for doctors, patients, medical researchers, drug developers, and society. Results discuss the consequences of redesigning clinical trials and whether these shifts are actually helping to achieve a more just and equitable public investment in medical research.