COLUMBIA (WACH) --- Lauren Whomsley wasn??t always this active. For years, she suffered severe knee pain.
??On a scale of 1-10, my pain level was an 8-9 every day,?? says Whomsley.
But three doctors told her the same thing.
??I was too young to have the surgery,?? says Whomsley.
Surgeon Mary O??Connor says doctors often treat women like Lauren differently than men.
??The term I like to use is, I??m not sure that a woman??s voice is always heard as clearly,?? says Dr. Mary O??Connor, Mayo Clinic in Florida.
One Canadian study found physicians who evaluated patients with moderate knee arthritis were 22-times more likely to recommend surgery for males.
In another, women were up to 23-percent less likely to receive opioid pain meds in the ER.
??Does the doctor think that her pain is as bad as the woman says it is,?? says O??Connor.
Studies also show minorities are under-represented in clinical trials. African Americans only account for five-percent of participants and Hispanics make up one-percent.
Doctor Linda b. Cottler is trying to change that with Health Street an organization that recruits minorities for clinical trials and other services.
??It??s important to have representation of all communities and populations in research, so that their voice can be heard,?? says Dr. Linda Cottler, University of Florida.
Daryl Pastor educates people in his community about the program.
??Our job is to try to include as many folks in health research as we possibly can,?? says Daryl Pastor, Community Health Worker.
Lauren found a surgeon who did operate she??s active and glad she didn??t take no for an answer. She ran a 5k two months after her surgery.
The most under-represented groups in clinical studies are Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, women and the elderly.
Doctors say it??s important to study these populations because certain diseases and conditions are more prevalent in different groups.