When the element of distrust was removed from the equation, the proportions of blacks and whites willing to enroll equalized to about a third of those sampled in both racial groups.
The good news is that there are ways to remedy the situations.
"One is physician or researcher relationships and interactions, that physicians and researchers should be taking the time to talk to patients and communicate with them explaining the risk of being involved in medical research and dispelling myths about participating in research," Powe said. "It's hard to do in a busy medical environment today but necessary."
Academic medical centers need also to build relationships that engender trust with the community, even including community members in designing research studies.
Finally, Powe said, patients tend to trust physicians of the same race. "One big issue is that there are not enough minority physicians, so that's a societal remedy we all have to think about," Powe said.
Some 12 percent of the U.S. population is black, but only 4 percent of physicians are black.
The National Cancer Institute has more on minority participation (or lack thereof) in clinical trials.
SOURCES: Neil R. Powe, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., professor, medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore; William E. Cunningham, M.D., professor, medicine and public health, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles; James Powell, M.D., principal investigator, Project Impact Program, National Medical Association; Jan. 14, 2008, Medicine