Despite a pressing need for participants, most Americans say they would not enroll in clinical trials. According to a new survey carried out on more than 1,500 consumers and nearly 600 physicians, less than half of participants, namely 35 percent, said they would participate in trials. The survey was commissioned by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).
Moreover, the paper showed that only 40 percent of those questioned had a positive view of clinical trials. However, one factor that made a significant and immediate difference was information. Upon reading a brief description of clinical trials, participants in the survey improved their perception of trials. Specifically, the number of people who had a positive view of clinical trials increased from 40 to 60 percent.
Clinical trials are of huge importance to the healthcare system. Specialists say that all major advance in cancer treatment was first evaluated in cancer trials before becoming available to patients. According to Jose Baselga, Chief Medical Officer and at Physician-in-Chief with MSK, clinical trials are key to finding better cancer treatments. Currently, the MSK is conducting over 900 cancer trials.
Among the concerns voiced by consumers who participated to the survey, over half (55 percent) said they were worried about side effects. Half of respondents were uncertain about insurance and the costs covered, while nearly half (48 percent) were worried about the inconvenient trial locations. The consumers were also concerned about the possibility of receiving a placebo (46 percent) while 35 percent said they were skeptical of being given a treatment that was not yet proven to work. A total of 34 percent said hey were worried about feeling like “guinea pigs” during trials.
Answers provided by physicians participating in the survey mirrored those given by consumers. Patients’ concerns over side effects and safety and about receiving a placebo were quoted by physicians as the top deterrents (63 percent). More than half of doctors, even more than consumers, said they were worried about the latter feeling like “guinea pigs”.
While misunderstandings are common and understandable, MSK’s Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Clinical Research Paul Sabbatini said, it is important that the scientific community involved in treating cancer address them. Refusing to consider clinical trials throughout the stages of cancer diagnosis and treatment could represent a “missed opportunity” for patients, Sabbatini stressed.
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