Purpose: The objective of this study is to understand the attitudes of American adults toward participation in cancer clinical trials.
Methods: A national probability sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older living in noninstitutional settings was interviewed by telephone by Harris Interactive during March and April 2000. One participant was selected from each household selected for the study. The resulting data were weighted to reflect the full adult population of the United States as reported in Current Population Reports. An Index of Participation in a Cancer Clinical Trial was computed, using a confirmatory factor analysis and converting the factor scores into a 0-to-100 scale.
Results: Approximately 32% of American adults (64 million individuals) indicate that they would be very willing to participate in a cancer clinical trial if asked to do so. An additional 38% of adults (76 million individuals) scored in a range that indicates that they are inclined to participate in a cancer clinical trial if asked, but hold some questions or reservations about participation. Projected rates of diagnosis, eligibility, and recruitment indicate that substantially more patients are willing to participate than are actually accrued.
Conclusion: These results indicate that the primary problem with accrual is not the attitudes of patients, but rather that the loss of potential participants is the result of the unavailability of an appropriate clinical trial and the disqualification of large numbers of patients. The pool of willing patients is further reduced by the reluctance of some physicians to engage in accrual.