Background: Certain populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and older persons, have had a history of low participation in cancer-related trials, yet there has been little information reported on recruitment strategies tailored to improve their enrollment. Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review to examine the methods used to study recruitment of underrepresented populations into cancer prevention and treatment trials and examined the studies that compared the efficacy and/or effectiveness of different recruitment strategies. We performed an electronic search through multiple databases including PubMed and a hand search of 34 journals. Potential studies were pulled and underwent title, abstract, and article review by at least two investigators. Results: Fourteen articles examined recruitment of underrepresented populations into cancer trials and, of these, five compared efficacy or effectiveness of different strategies for recruitment of underrepresented populations into randomized or concurrent controlled trials. These five studies used various strategies but only three reported that specific recruitment strategies, such as media campaigns and church-based project sessions, resulted in improvement in accrual to cancer trials. Conclusion: There is limited evidence for efficacious or effective strategies to recruit underrepresented populations in cancer-related trials. The available evidence cannot be generalized to these heterogeneous groups. Further study is needed on efficacious strategies for recruitment of underrepresented populations into cancer-related trials.
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