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Finally Studying Those Research Has Left Behind in Favor of White Subjects
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Tuesday, October 24, 2023


Research is only valuable when the sample of patients includes people from all groups, but that hasn’t always been their design, and it leaves a gaping hole in the results.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Years ago, while visiting a major pharmaceutical firm engaged in research all over the United States, I questioned who was in the sample and why it seemed certain groups were missing. I also asked about research in China. The answers came back in a casual manner. “Oh, we can’t get them” or “They’re different from us.” The “us” meant white people, and there is some evidence in certain groups for genetic differences that might affect results in studies, but it was disturbing.

More disturbing than the comments was that they were coming from a Black researcher at the company. But color or ethnicity aren’t the only reasons some are missing from research projects. We might also say the same about women being missing—that bridge has been crossed now after a prime market for medications aimed at women was realized, I am assuming.

Psychology has been guilty of the same selective method of choosing samples. Remember the famous Milgram study of obedience to authority or Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment? Milgram wrote that he dropped women, “assuming that there was no need to test females as the results would have been very similar.” The results would most certainly not have been the same, and he knew it once he began his experiment with a few women. Zimbardo’s mistakes are legion, yet he used it to mount a career.

If Milgram’s experiment was to figure out how the Nazis got people to comply with murder and brutality, didn’t he know about the women guards in the concentration camps? Watch the film “Seven Beauties” for a brief glimpse.

I once met a woman who aided the guards. She was in a nursing home, and a nurse told me residents, mostly elderly Jewish women, knew she had been a barracks captain and acted like the Nazis toward them. She was known by the whistle around her neck.

Businesses had a very good understanding of why research wasn’t being run in China; they feared China would steal their research. OK, that one was solved, but why the paucity of Blacks and Latinos in research groups? The answer I received was that there was an inability to engage these patients or difficulty setting up clinic sites in these areas.

How could any Black person forget what happened in the Tuskegee Study? Then there was the unethical Loretta Lacks matter. What horrific experiments were kept from us to which slaves were subjected? Surgery without anesthesia comes to mind. This also applied to Chinese-American communities. All of these reasons remain inexcusable. Do you still wonder why certain communities are refusing to accept the COVID-19 vaccines?

Now, thanks to the realization of an untapped market or the sudden awakening of research to its biases, we are seeing experiment methodology change. One area of research was the skin condition psoriasis.

Of course, there are ongoing, multi-million dollar projects for things we might refer to as “vanity” products that provide relief from acne or other skin problems. But is it more important than Black women dying in childbirth or Black patients with cancer not surviving survival cases of cancer? I think not.

Who is seeking these patients out and engaging in research on how to best help them and what treatments are most effective? Empty excuses do not suffice.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

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Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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