Primary care physicians' attitudes and beliefs about cancer clinical trials

Clin Trials. 2017 Oct;14(5):518-525. doi: 10.1177/1740774517717722. Epub 2017 Jul 11.


Background/aims: Cancer clinical trials give patients access to state-of-the-art treatments and facilitate the translation of findings into mainstream clinical care. However, patients from racial and ethnic minority groups remain underrepresented in clinical trials. Primary care physicians are a trusted source of information for patients, yet their role in decision-making about cancer treatment and referrals to trial participation has received little attention. The aim of this study was to determine physicians' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about cancer clinical trials, their experience with trials, and their interest in appropriate training about trials.

Methods: A total of 613 physicians in the New York City area primarily serving patients from ethnic and racial minority groups were invited via email to participate in a 20-min online survey. Physicians were asked about their patient population, trial knowledge and attitudes, interest in training, and personal demographics. Using calculated scale variables, we used descriptive statistical analyses to better understand physicians' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about trials.

Results: A total of 127 physicians completed the survey. Overall, they had low knowledge about and little experience with trials. However, they generally had positive attitudes toward trials, with 41.4% indicating a strong interest in learning more about their role in trials, and 35.7% indicating that they might be interested. Results suggest that Black and Latino physicians and those with more positive attitudes and beliefs were more likely to be interested in future training opportunities.

Conclusion: Primary care physicians may be an important group to target in trying to improve cancer clinical trial participation among minority patients. Future work should explore methods of educational intervention for such interested providers.

Keywords: Cancer clinical trials; clinical trials knowledge; minority patients; primary care physicians.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian / psychology
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • New York City
  • Physicians, Primary Care / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People / psychology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data