Eli Lilly taps health resource company for clinical trial crash course aimed at improving diversity

Lifeology aims to use illustrations and easy to understand language to explain difficult medical subjects such as clinical trials. (Lifeology)

Health inequity has been a major problem for a long time, but COVID-19 brought this reality to the forefront. The pandemic laid bare not just the inadequacies in the healthcare system but also in clinical trials for drugs and vaccines.

So, to try to improve the lack of diversity in trials in general, Eli Lilly collaborated with science and health resource company Lifeology to provide a better understanding of clinical trials and how they work. The aim was to create easy to understand online courses that explain the benefits of clinical trials to attract a more diverse group of potential study volunteers.

The “What are clinical trials?” project with Lilly leveraged Lifeology's illustrated flashcard course strategy, creating engaging designs and simplified text to explain all aspects of a clinical trial. Without talking down to the reader, the 43-card course explains all aspects of clinical trials from what they are, what they do, why they are important and what to expect by taking part. The hope is to engage normally underrepresented patients to get involved in clinical trials.

“We can help from the angle of telling stories or sharing information that's relevant to the people that are trying to be recruited into the clinical trials, empowering them to make those decisions and printing materials that they can see themselves in,” Lifeology co-founder Paige Brown Jarreau said.

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In addition to the general clinical trial deck, Lilly and Lifeology worked together on a deck about early-stage breast cancer. The cards go through the basic important information about the diagnosis—what it is, risk factors and questions for doctors—but there is also a strong thread of information about clinical trials aimed especially at Black women, as they are terribly underrepresented in trials. The deck ends with a link to Lilly’s clinical trial page.

The initial meet with Lilly’s health literacy experts grew organically out of Lifeology’s involvement in online communities and forums talking about health literacy and how to get more diverse patients into clinical trials.

Not only are there plans for future work with Lilly on this topic, but now it’s expanding to other organizations as the health literacy experts tend to ”talk to each other.”

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Lifeology’s goal is to be an accessible resource for all. In addition to its work with pharma, the company has its own branded courses that are free for anyone to view without having to download an app or log in to anything, aligning itself with the mission statement of "promoting health literacy.”