Citation: Sabri AA, Qayyum MA (2006) Increasing the Participation: Another Factor. PLoS Med 3(5): e250. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030250
Published: May 30, 2006
Copyright: © 2006 Sabri and Qayyum. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this article.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
The Perspective by Aziz Sheikh  has validly highlighted the lack of involvement of ethnic minorities in research studies, focusing on identifying the factors responsible for it. Apart from possible factors already discussed, another important factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the number of illegal immigrants in the United States and the United Kingdom. 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 [2, 3]. The UK also shares the same trend, with 500,000 illegal immigrants (about 10.86% of 4.6 million ethnic minorities) [4, 5].
In this regard, the apprehension of being traced as illegal immigrants poses a definite barrier to participating 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 participant. It is the duty of the researcher to explain during the time of consent that this research has nothing to do with participants' citizenship 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 truly representative structure of the local population.
- 1. Sheikh A (2006) Why are ethnic minorities under-represented in US research studies? PLoS Med 3: e49. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030049.
- 2. Center for Immigration Studies (2005) Report: Illegal immigration. Washington (D. C.): Center for Immigration Studies. Available: http://www.cis.org/topics/illegalimmigration.html. Accessed 12 April 2006 .
- 3. United States Census Bureau Fact Sheet (2000) Census 2000 demographic profile. Available: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=&geo_id=01000US&_geoContext=01000US&_street=&_county=&_cityTown=&_state=&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010&_submenuId=factsheet_0&ds_name=ACS_2004_SAFF&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null®=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=. Accessed 17 April 2006 .
- 4. Leppard D, Winnett R (2005 April 17) 500,000 illegal migrants says Home Office. The Sunday Times. Available: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1572533,00.html. Accessed 12 April 2006.
- 5. National Statistics (2001) Population size and structure. London: National Statistics. Available: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=273. Accessed 12 April 2006 .