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The under-representation of minority ethnic groups in UK medical research

Harrison, E. K. & Smart, A. (2016). The under-representation of minority ethnic groups in UK medical research. Ethnicity and Health, doi: 10.1080/13557858.2016.1182126


The paper investigates differences in engagement with medical research between White British and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups in the UK, using data from the Wellcome Trust Monitor (WTM).

The WTM is nationally representative of the UK population and has collected data over two waves, 2009 and 2012. Data pooled from both waves (n = 2575) were used to examine associations between ethnic group and participation in medical research, and willingness to participate in medical research. Logistic regression analysis used models that controlled for socio-economic and demographic factors, and relevant outlooks and experiences that are, or could reasonably be assumed to be, associated with engagement with medical research.

Respondents from the BAME group were less likely to have participated in medical research compared to those from the White British group, but there was only patchy evidence of small ethnic group differences in willingness to participate. Influences on engagement in medical research varied somewhat between the White British and BAME groups, in particular in relation to occupation, education, health, attitudes to medical science and belief.

These findings consolidate previously context-specific evidence of BAME group under-representation in the UK, and highlight the heterogeneity that exists with in the broad BAME group. Efforts to address the under-representation of those from BAME groups might benefit from targeted strategies for recruitment and advocacy, although improved datasets are required to fully understand ethnic differences in engagement with medical research.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethnicity & Health on 13 May 2016, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Ethnic minorities, participation, willingness to participate, medical research, Wellcome Trust Monitor
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
[thumbnail of Underrep UK EH 14 4 15 File not for review.pdf]
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