Systematic review of barriers and facilitators to clinical trial enrollment among adolescents and young adults with cancer: Identifying opportunities for intervention

Cancer. 2020 Mar 1;126(5):949-957. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32675. Epub 2019 Dec 23.


Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are underrepresented in cancer clinical trials (CCTs). Limited trial enrollment slows progress in improving survival rates and prevents the collection of valuable biospecimens. A systematic literature review was conducted to assess barriers and facilitators to AYA enrollment in CCTs and to identify opportunities to improve enrollment. The PubMed MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, and PsycINFO databases were searched to identify studies relevant to AYA CCT enrollment. Eligibility criteria included the qualitative and/or quantitative evaluation of barriers and facilitators to AYA enrollment. One hundred fifty-five unique publications were identified; 13 were included in the final analysis. Barriers to AYA enrollment in CCTs included a lack of existing trials applicable to the patient population, limited access to available CCTs, and a lack of physician awareness of relevant trials. Facilitators of enrollment included optimizing the research infrastructure, improving the awareness of available CCTs among providers, and enhancing communication about CCTs between providers and patients. In conclusion, the limited available research reports institution- and patient-level barriers and facilitators to AYA CCT enrollment. Because of persistent disparities in AYA enrollment, there is an urgent need to further identify the barriers and facilitators to AYA CCT enrollment to determine actionable areas for intervention.

Keywords: adolescents and young adults; barriers; cancer; clinical trials; community-based; facilitators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Young Adult