Better communication is one way to improve clinical trial enrollment, according to a study published in eCancer this week. In the United States, less than 5% of people with cancer join clinical trials, despite the invaluable benefits they provide both researchers and patients. The merits of clinical trials are two-fold -- they help deliver innovative potential medicines to the patients who need them most, and they provide doctors and scientists with crucial insight into the safest and most effective ways to treat all types of cancer. A recent multinational study, Exploratory Research into Cancer Patients Attitudes about Clinical Trials, explores the disconnect between clinical trial enrollment and the value clinical trials provide.
The study came to three conclusions, all which reflect the importance of better communication surrounding clinical trials:
- Doctor recommendations matter. Most respondents in the study said their doctors did not discuss clinical trials during their treatment planning process. Participants explained that clinical trials were not generally at the top of their mind after receiving their diagnosis. Instead, they placed significant trust in their physicians' recommendations to guide them through the process and identify potential clinical trial options. This indicates that improving doctor-patient dialogue about clinical trials could increase participation.
- Better outreach and education are needed. Despite a general understanding of the importance of clinical trials by those surveyed, misperceptions about trials persist. Due to these misperceptions, many patients remain apprehensive or even dismissive to the idea of joining clinical trials at all. Better clinical trial outreach and education for patients and doctors can help address misunderstandings and improve overall trial enrollment.
- All patients should have the opportunity to join. According to the study, "There was almost universal agreement that all cancer patients, regardless of age, life, stage or severity of disease should at least be offered the chance to participate in a clinical trial." Those involved in the study noted that providing patients with information on all available options, including clinical trials, would allow them to work with their doctors and develop an appropriate plan.
By improving communication about clinical trial enrollment, we can give all those in cancer community--from patients and caregivers, to doctors and researchers--the opportunity to work together to improve participation and ultimately save patients' lives. To learn more about the study, take a look at the infographic below: