Researchers explore perceptions of cancer trials on ‘International Clinical Trials Day’

A new article published by ecancermedicalscience on May 20th addresses the question of why cancer patients are afraid of participating in potentially life-saving clinical trials. Dr Corina Ramers-Verhoeven and colleagues explored cancer patients' perceptions of clinical trials, surveying patients in six countries to assemble a surprising narrative. Despite understanding the importance of clinical trials, many patients reported that their fears and misconceptions of what clinical trials actually are have prevented them from seeking more information. Will greater awareness address these concerns?

What do cancer patients think of clinical trials?

International Clinical Trials Day is acknowledged on May 20th, in honor of the first "clinical trial," which was performed in 1747 when Dr James Lind discovered the connection between citrus fruit consumption and scurvy in sailors. In the ensuing centuries, clinical trials have vastly improved in sophistication - while still relying on the voluntary contributions of patients. And research relies upon these patients in turn; without clinical trials, new drugs and treatments cannot be released to the public. But how do the patients themselves feel about clinical trials? Have their attitudes evolved to keep pace with medical developments?

A new article published by ecancermedicalscience on May 20th addresses these questions. Dr Corina Ramers-Verhoeven and colleagues explored cancer patients' perceptions of clinical trials, surveying patients in six countries to assemble a surprising narrative.

Despite increasing awareness, misconceptions about the nature and structure of clinical trials keep many patients from seeking information or participating in trials. Shockingly, Ramers-Verhoeven found that the most common mistaken belief among patients was that control groups would not receive any cancer treatment at all. "I would never even consider [participating in a clinical trial]," one cancer patient responded. "I don't want to play around with medicine and risk getting the placebo." Many patients reported similar concerns, stating that clinical trials were probably for people who had "lost all hope."  

Yet cancer patients also recognize the immense positive benefits of clinical trials - again and again, the responders told Ramers-Verhoeven that advancing medicine and helping future patients were important causes.  

Ramers-Verhoeven says, "There was a disconnect between this view and the view that participation is ultimately not for the benefit of the individual's situation." She reports that at the end of the survey, the patients were already reporting feeling more assured and confident at the prospect of participating in trials.

These are surprising results, given recent campaigns to raise awareness of clinical trials in the public. Clinical trials cannot exist without patient participation, which is rooted in trust, information and awareness. Clearly, as Ramers-Verhoeven's research shows, there is more work still to do.

Source: ecancermedicalscience

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