Clinical Trial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Roadmap of the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network

Anuradha Lala, Clauden Louis, Dominique Vervoort, Alexander Iribarne, Aarti Rao, Wendy C. Taddei-Peters, Samantha Raymond, Emilia Bagiella, Patrick O'Gara, Vinod H. Thourani, Vinay Badhwar, Joanna Chikwe, Mariell Jessup, Neal Jeffries, Alan J. Moskowitz, Annetine C. Gelijns, Carlos J. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: There is a recognized lack of diversity among patients enrolled in cardiovascular interventional and surgical trials. Diverse patient representation in clinical trials is necessary to enhance generalizability of findings, which may lead to better outcomes across broader populations. The Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network (CTSN) recently developed a plan of action to increase diversity among participating investigators and trial participants and is the focus of this review. Methods: A review of literature and enrollment data from CTSN trials was conducted. Results: CTSN completed more than a dozen major clinical trials (2008-2022), enrolling >4000 patients, of whom 30% were women, 11% were non-White, and 5.6% were Hispanic. CTSN also completed trials of hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019, wherein enrollment was more diverse, with 42% women, and 58% were Asian, Black, Hispanic, or from another underrepresented racial group. The discrepancy in diversity of enrollment between cardiac surgery trials and coronavirus disease trials highlights the need for a more comprehensive understanding of (1) the prevalence of underlying disease requiring cardiac interventions across broad populations, (2) differences in access to care and referral for cardiac surgery, and (3) barriers to enrollment in cardiac surgery trials. Conclusions: Committed to diversity, CTSN's multifaceted action plan includes developing site-specific enrollment targets, collecting social determinants of health data, understanding reasons for nonparticipation, recruiting sites that serve diverse populations, emphasizing greater diversity among clinical trial teams, and implicit bias training. The CTSN will prospectively assess how these interventions influence enrollment as we work to ensure trial participants are more representative of the communities we serve.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


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