A Call to Action: A Systematic Review Examining the Failure to Include Females and Members of Minoritized Racial/Ethnic Groups in Clinical Trials of Pharmacological Treatments for Alcohol Use Disorder

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Alcohol use disorder (AUD) presents a significant public health concern given the high prevalence estimates and numerous deleterious-associated consequences. The FDA currently has approved 3 pharmacological treatments for alcohol use disorder: acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram. Previous research suggests that there may exist differences in the prevalence of and outcomes related to AUD across sex and racial/ethnic groups. Other work indicates that there may be differences in the efficacy of existing pharmacological treatments for AUD across demographic groups. The purpose of the present study was to examine the inclusion of women and members of minoritized racial/ethnic groups in published randomized clinical trials of pharmacological treatments for alcohol use disorder since 1994, in accordance with the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993. PubMed was systematically searched using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. The initial search located 842 articles. After exclusion of ineligible articles, 102 remained for analysis. Of those included in the review, only 11.8% reported full sex and racial/ethnic characteristics of their study participants. Of the total sample, 6 articles were specifically examining 1 racial/ethnic group, and 11 were specifically examining 1 sex. Two articles (2.2%) did not report information regarding the sex breakdown of their participants, while 47 (49.0%) did not report any information regarding the racial/ethnic breakdown of their sample. Despite guidelines set forth by NIH, only 5.9% of articles conducted subgroup analyses to examine differences in treatment outcomes by sex or race/ethnicity, and only 16.7% of articles included considerations related to cultural inclusion when discussing study limitations. These results varied by medication type. Results suggest that considerably greater efforts must be put forth by the larger scientific community regarding the inclusion, analysis, and reporting of data focused on women and non-White racial and ethnic groups.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research