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Understanding and Attitudes toward Cancer Clinical Trials among Patients with a Cancer Diagnosis: National Study through Cancer Trials Ireland

2020-07-16, Kearns, Cathriona, Feighery, Ronan, Mc Caffrey, John, Higgins, Michaela, Smith, Martina, Gallagher, William M., Kelly, Ciara, Kelly, Catherine M., et al.

Cancer clinical trials (CCTs) are critical to translation and development of better therapies to improve outcomes. CCTs require adequate patient involvement but accrual rates are low globally. Several known barriers impede participation and knowing how subpopulations differ in understanding of CCTs can foster targeted approaches to aid accrual and advance cancer treatments. We conducted the first nationwide survey of 1089 patients attending 14 Irish cancer centres, assessing understanding of fundamental concepts in CCT methodology and factors that influence participation, to help tailor patient support for accrual to CCTs. Two-thirds (66%) of patients reported never having been offered a CCT and only 5% of those not offered asked to participate. Misunderstanding of clinical equipoise was prevalent. There were differences in understanding of randomisation of treatment by age (p < 0.0001), ethnicity (p = 0.035) and marital status (p = 0.013), and 58% of patients and 61% previous CCT participants thought that their doctor would ensure better treatment in CCTs. Females were slightly more risk averse. Males indicated a greater willingness to participate in novel drug trials (p = 0.001, p = 0.003). The study identified disparities in several demographics; older, widowed, living in provincial small towns and fewer years-educated patients had generally poorer understanding of CCTs, highlighting requirements for targeted support in these groups.