Background: Concerns have been raised about low participation rates of people from minority ethnic groups in clinical trials. However, the evidence is unclear as many studies do not report the ethnicity of participants and there is insufficient information about the reasons for ineligibility by ethnic group. Where there are data, there remains the key question as to whether ethnic minorities more likely to be ineligible (e.g. due to language) or decline to participate. We have addressed these questions in relation to the Birmingham Rehabilitation Uptake Maximisation (BRUM) study, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing a home-based with a hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation programme in a multi-ethnic population in the UK. Methods: Analysis of the ethnicity, age and sex of presenting and recruited subjects for a trial of cardiac rehabilitation in the West-Midlands, UK. Participants: 1997 patients presenting post-myocardial infarction, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Data collected: exclusion rates, reasons for exclusion and reasons for declining to participate in the trial by ethnic group. Results: Significantly more patients of South Asian ethnicity were excluded (52% of 'South Asian' v 36% 'White European' and 36% 'Other', p < 0.001). This difference in eligibility was primarily due to exclusion on the basis of language (i.e. the inability to speak English or Punjabi). Of those eligible, similar proportions were recruited from the different ethnic groups (white, South Asian and other). There was a marked difference in eligibility between people of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin
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