By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - October 02, 2023
There are many misconceptions about clinical trials. Many assume that clinical trials are only for patients who have no other alternatives, while others may associate trials with experiments or believe participants are like guinea pigs. These concerns may make patients hesitant to speak to their physician about clinical trial options. Similarly, physicians may not always talk about trials early on to help patients understand that they may be part of their care.
Moffitt Cancer Center is looking for ways to help dispel the myths and educate the community about clinical trials and provide physicians with additional tools to facilitate discussions with patients in the hopes of increasing participation, especially among racial and ethnic minorities. The American Association for Cancer Research Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2022 highlighted data from nearly 150 clinical trials over 10 years showing a stark underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic participants (2.5% and 2.3%, respectively). This finding emphasizes the urgent need to increase inclusion of patients from diverse backgrounds in clinical trial efforts.
“Lack of representation from patients of diverse backgrounds in clinical trials can lead to further disparities in cancer care. It is important that our clinical trial participant demographics represent the composition of the entire community affected by cancer,” said Susan T. Vadaparampil, Ph.D., MPH, co-principal investigator on this study and associate center director of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity at Moffitt.
With funding from the National Cancer Institute, Moffitt has launched the ACT WONDER2S study to engage Black and Hispanic patients, physicians, and community members in the Tampa Bay area to understand various perspectives on barriers that may prevent or increase clinical trial participation. For patients, there may be limited background knowledge regarding clinical trials or logistical challenges such as transportation. Both patients and providers may hold attitudes and beliefs that could influence conversations about and participation in clinical trials.
Partnering with Vadaparampil is Dana E. Rollison, Ph.D., co-principal investigator, chief data officer and associate center director of Data Science at Moffitt, who helps focus the ACT WONDER2S study through a data-driven lens. “By analyzing data from our community and our own patients at Moffitt, we can better understand the types of treatment trials we need to make available and how they need to be designed to ensure we are meeting the needs of our catchment area,” Rollison said. Together, Rollison and Vadaparampil are leveraging their complementary expertise in community outreach, data and digital tools to address these important issues of disparities in clinical trials.
The study team is conducting a series of informational interviews with several key groups, including community physicians and Black and Hispanic adults, to understand their perspectives on clinical trials. You can fill out the form on this website to learn more.
The information received from the interviews will be used to help the research team develop new strategies to improve clinical trial referral and recruitment, including digital interventions and community health educator-led outreach.