The Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is to take part in a three-month reflective assessment of its delivery of race equality in health research, starting this month.
The initiative, led by the NIHR, involved 13 organisations delivering health research in higher education, local government, the NHS, the private sector and voluntary sector.
The trial will lead to the development of NIHR’s work to address current inequities in research, including the fact that the ethnic diversity of those who participate in clinical research often does not reflect that of the wider population affected by the particular issue being researched.
This means that health research frequently does not meet the needs of the whole population, which in turn distorts healthcare delivery.
“We know that ethnicity and race have been shown to systematically influence health outcomes, socio-economic status and employment opportunities,” said Jeremy Taylor, Director of Public Voice at NIHR.
“Racial inequity continues to damage the lives and health of people from Black, African, Asian and Caribbean communities; the same communities have also been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19. We hope that the testing and application of the Race Equality Framework will over time help to create a fairer and more inclusive research culture.”
From August to December 2021, 13 organisations will trial a new framework developed by the NIHR Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG) to assess how their current policies, practices and organisational culture could be changed to better serve diverse communities and ultimately improve healthcare delivery.
This is ahead of a wider rollout of the final framework in spring 2022, which all research organisations will be encouraged to adopt.
Professor Helen McShane, Director of the Oxford BRC, said: “As a BRC, we are committed to ensuring that our researchers and everyone involved in our research reflect wider society, and have strengthened our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. For this reason, we are delighted to be taking part in this pilot. We hope it will help the BRC to address race as one of the strategic priorities identified in the NIHR’s Best Research for Best Health: The Next Chapter.”
Dr Pavel Ovseiko, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, who coordinates the pilot in Oxford, said: “I am proud that many organisations representing the NIHR research infrastructure in Oxford have come together and joined their considerable expertise in this important pilot.
“The Race Equality Framework will guide us on the steps we can take to ensure that all the public and taxpayers, who support and fund the NIHR, benefit from the NIHR research regardless of their race, ethnicity, and cultural heritage.”