Clin Ther. 2023 Jul 8:S0149-2918(23)00220-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2023.06.014. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Diagnostic genomic research has the potential to directly benefit participants. This study sought to identify barriers to equitable enrollment of acutely ill newborns into a diagnostic genomic sequencing research study.
METHODS: We reviewed the 16-month recruitment process of a diagnostic genomic research study enrolling newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at a regional pediatric hospital that primarily serves English- and Spanish-speaking families. Differences in eligibility, enrollment, and reasons for not enrolling were examined as functions of race/ethnicity and primary spoken language.
FINDINGS: Of the 1248 newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, 46% (n = 580) were eligible, and 17% (n = 213) were enrolled. Of the 16 languages represented among the newborns’ families, 4 (25%) had translated consent documents. Speaking a language other than English or Spanish increased a newborn’s likelihood of being ineligible by 5.9 times (P < 0.001) after controlling for race/ethnicity. The main reason for ineligibility was documented as the clinical team declined having their patient recruited (41% [51 of 125]). This reason significantly affected families who spoke languages other than English or Spanish and was able to be remediated with training of the research staff. Stress (20% [18 of 90]) and the study intervention(s) (20% [18 of 90]) were the main reasons given for not enrolling.
IMPLICATIONS: This analysis of eligibility, enrollment, and reasons for not enrolling in a diagnostic genomic research study found that recruitment generally did not differ as a function of a newborn’s race/ethnicity. However, differences were observed depending on the parent’s primary spoken language. Regular monitoring and training can improve equitable enrollment into diagnostic genomic research. There are also opportunities at the federal level to improve access to those with limited English proficiency and thus decrease disparities in representation in research participation.