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Increasing The Participation, Another Factor

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:52 GMT

Author: 'Ahmad' 'Sabri'
Position: Medical Student (final year)
Institution: Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad, Pakistan
Additional Authors: Mohammad Ahad Qayyum
Submitted Date: March 21, 2006
Published Date: April 3, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

This article has validly highlighted the lack of involvement of ethnic minorities in research studies, keeping the focus on identifying the factors responsible for it. Apart from possible factors already discussed, another factor of importance that needs to be taken into consideration is the number of illegal immigrants in the US and UK. There are approximately 7 million illegal immigrants in the US (about 10% of 69.96 million ethnic minorities) and the number is growing by half a million each year [1, 2]. The UK also shares the same trend with 500, 000 illegal immigrants (about 10.86% of 4.6 million ethnic minorities) [3, 4].

In this regard, the apprehension of being traced as illegal immigrants poses a definite barrier in their participation in any research activity. It is indeed a sensitive issue. Similar to the 'doctor patient' relationship, a confidential channel should be ensured between the researcher and the subject. It is the duty of the researcher to explain during the time of consent that this research has nothing to do with their status and no information will be used in any way against them. Legislation must be passed to provide legal immunity to all participants regardless of their legal status. I believe adopting such methodology will increase the number of participants belonging to ethnic minorities. Moreover, research would be carried out on a true representative structure of the local population.


1. Center for Immigration Studies. Report: Illegal Immigration. 31st Oct. 2005

2. US Census Bureau Fact Sheet. Census 2000 Demographic Profile. Aug. 2000

3. The Sunday Times. Home Office: 500,000 Illegal Migrants. April 17, 2005.

4. National Statistics United Kingdom. Population size and structure. April 2001.

No competing interests declared.