Purpose: The negative attitudes of patients with cancer regarding clinical trials are an important contributor to low participation rates. This study evaluated whether a brief psychoeducational intervention was effective in improving patients' attitudes as well as their knowledge, self-efficacy for decision making, receptivity to receiving more information, and general willingness to participate in clinical trials.
Patients and methods: A total of 472 adults with cancer who had not been asked previously to participate in a clinical trial were randomly assigned to receive printed educational information about clinical trials or a psychoeducational intervention that provided similar information and also addressed misperceptions and concerns about clinical trials. The primary (attitudes) and secondary outcomes (knowledge, self-efficacy, receptivity, and willingness) were assessed via patient self-report before random assignment and 7 to 28 days later.
Results: Patients who received the psychoeducational intervention showed more positive attitudes toward clinical trials (P = .016) and greater willingness to participate (P = .011) at follow-up than patients who received printed educational information. Evidence of an indirect effect of intervention assignment on willingness to participate (estimated at 0.168; 95% CI, 0.088 to 0.248) suggested that the benefits of psychoeducation on willingness to participate were explained by the positive impact of psychoeducation on attitudes toward clinical trials.
Conclusion: A brief psychoeducational intervention can improve the attitudes of patients with cancer toward clinical trials and thereby increase their willingness to participate in clinical trials. Findings support conducting additional research to evaluate effects of this intervention on quality of decision making and rates of participation among patients asked to enroll onto therapeutic clinical trials.