Systematic Scoping Review of Black Participants in CTN Research Reveals Important Racial/Ethnic Differences and Untapped Opportunities
Black individuals experience a disproportionate burden of substance use-related disabilities and premature death, and Blacks with more severe substance use problems are less likely than Whites to receive treatment.
Black individuals are also frequently underrepresented in research, and when they are represented, researchers often fail to conduct moderator or subgroup analyses by race, contributing to gaps in knowledge about substance use treatment for this population.
The NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN), a research platform for multisite behavioral, pharmacological, and integrated trials designed to evaluate the effectiveness of substance use treatments in community settings with diversified patient populations, provides a wealth of research knowledge on substance use and has the potential to play a significant role in addressing several gaps in the literature on substance use among Black individuals.
This article, by members of the Minority Interest Group of the CTN, reports on a systematic scoping review of Black participants enrolled CTN studies, using the research question, “What have we learned from published CTN studies about Black individuals who use substances?” as a guide.
The primary source for identifying articles for this review was the CTN Dissemination Library, an online collection of articles and other documents by or about the NIDA Clinical Trials Network. PubMed, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar were also searched. Studies were included if the sample was more than 75% Black and/or specific findings pertaining to Black participants were reported.
The review yielded 50 articles meeting the criteria, with studies that mostly focused on baseline characteristics, followed by substance use treatment outcomes, HIV/risky sex behaviors, retention, comorbid conditions, and measurement issues.
The review revealed several significant patterns and implications, including racial/ethnic differences in:
- treatment entry,
- HIV/risky sex-related behaviors and within-group gender differences,
- measurement, and
- treatment retention.
Compiling the knowledge gained from the CTN on Black people increases our understanding of the unique factors that should be considered in developing and implementing effective substance use treatment protocols for this population, determining which existing treatments are most impactful, and ascertaining gaps in the literature for future research.
Conclusions: Although the CTN has enrolled 5,804 Black participants, only 10 studies provided findings specifically on treatment outcomes among Black people who use substances, resulting in limited research on effective treatment for this population. The CTN is a tremendous resource of existing and future CTN data sets for use in examining the efficacy of interventions for specific racial/ethnic groups, and offers untapped opportunities to further advance research on Black people who use substances, including secondary analyses of already-available datasets. Find datasets from CTN studies on the NIDA Data Share website.
Citation: Montgomery L, Burlew AK, Haeny AM, Jones CA. A Systematic Scoping Review of Research on Black Participants in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 2019 (in press).