• Comparison of Racial, Ethnic, and Geographic Location Diversity of Participants Enrolled in Clinic-Based vs 2 Remote COVID-19 Clinical Trials.

      Stewart, Jenell; Krows, Meighan L; Schaafsma, Torin T; Heller, Kate B; Brown, Elizabeth R; Boonyaratanakornit, Jim; Brown, Clare E; Leingang, Hannah; Liou, Caroline; Bershteyn, Anna; et al. (American Medical Association, 2022-02-01)
      Importance: Racial and ethnic diversity among study participants is associated with improved generalizability of clinical trial results and may address inequities in evidence that informs public health strategies. Novel strategies are needed for equitable access and recruitment of diverse clinical trial populations. Objective: To investigate demographic and geographical location data for participants in 2 remote COVID-19 clinical trials with online recruitment and compare with those of a contemporaneous clinic-based COVID-19 study. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was conducted using data from 3 completed, prospective randomized clinical trials conducted at the same time: 2 remotely conducted studies (the Early Treatment Study and Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 Postexposure Prophylaxis [PEP] Study) and 1 clinic-based study of convalescent plasma (the Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma for the Treatment of Patients With COVID-19 study). Data were collected from March to August 2020 with 1 to 28 days of participant follow-up. All studies had clinical sites in Seattle, Washington; the 2 remote trials also had collaborating sites in New York, New York; Syracuse, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Los Angeles, California. Two remote trials with inclusive social media strategies enrolled 929 participants with recent SARS-CoV-2 exposure (Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 PEP Trial) and 231 participants with COVID-19 infection (Early Treatment Study); the clinic-based Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma for the Treatment of Patients With COVID-19 study enrolled 250 participants with recent COVID-19 infection. Data were analyzed from April to August 2021. Interventions: Remote trials used inclusive social media strategies and clinician referral for recruitment and telehealth, courier deliveries, and self-collected nasal swabs for remotely conducted study visits. For the clinic-based study, participants were recruited via clinician referral and attended in-person visits. Main Outcomes and Measures: Google Analytics data were used to measure online participant engagement and recruitment. Participant demographics and geographical location data from remote trials were pooled and compared with those of the clinic-based study. Statistical comparison of demographic data was limited to participants with COVID infections (ie, those in the remotely conducted Early Treatment Study vs those in the clinic-based study) to improve accuracy of comparison given that the Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 PEP Trial enrolled participants with COVID-19 exposures and thus had different enrollment criteria. Results: A total of 1410 participants were included. Among 1160 participants in remote trials and 250 participants in the clinic-based trial, the mean (range) age of participants was 39 (18-80) years vs 50 (19-79) years and 676 individuals (58.3%) vs 131 individuals (52.4%) reported female sex. The Early Treatment Study with inclusive social media strategies enrolled 231 participants in 41 US states with increased rates of racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity compared with participants in the clinic-based study. Among 228 participants in the remotely conducted Early Treatment Study with race data vs participants in the clinic-based study, 39 individuals (17.1%) vs 1 individual (0.4%) identified as Alaska Native or American Indian, 11 individuals (4.8%) vs 22 individuals (8.8%) identified as Asian, 26 individuals (11.4%) vs 4 individuals (1.6%) identified as Black, 3 individuals (1.3%) vs 1 individual identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 117 individuals (51.3%) vs 214 individuals (85.6%) identified as White, and 32 individuals (14.0%) vs 8 individuals (3.2%) identified as other race (P < .001). Among 230 individuals in the Early Treatment Study vs 236 individuals in the clinic-based trial with ethnicity data, 71 individuals (30.9%) vs 11 individuals (4.7%) identified as Hispanic or Latinx (P<.001). There were 29 individuals in the Early Treatment Study with nonurban residences (ie, rural, small town, or peri-urban; 12.6%) vs 6 of 248 individuals in the clinic-based trial with residence data (2.4%) (P < .001). In remote trial online recruitment, the highest engagement was with advertisements on social media platforms; among 125 147 unique users with age demographics who clicked on online recruitment advertisements, 84 188 individuals (67.3%) engaged via Facebook. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that remote clinical trials with online advertising may be considered as a strategy to improve diversity among clinical trial participants.