Overcoming Barriers to Clinical Trial Participation: Outcomes of a National Clinical Trial Matching and Navigation Service for Patients With a Blood Cancer

JCO Oncol Pract. 2021 Dec;17(12):e1866-e1878. doi: 10.1200/OP.20.01068. Epub 2021 Jun 2.


Purpose: There are numerous barriers to cancer clinical trial participation in the United States. This paper describes the approach and outcomes of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Clinical Trial Support Center (CTSC), whose nurse navigators assist patients with a blood cancer and their oncologists by identifying all appropriate trials based on clinical data and patient preference, facilitating informed and shared decision making, and minimizing enrollment barriers.

Methods: Data on patients served from October 2017 to October 2019 were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate analyses to determine demographic and clinical characteristics associated with enrollment. Reasons for nonenrollment were examined.

Results: The CTSC opened 906 patient cases during this time frame. Among all US patients with a closed case (n = 750), the clinical trial enrollment rate was 16.1%. Among those with a known enrollment outcome after a trial search (n = 537), the enrollment rate was 22.5%. Multivariate analysis controlling for variables significant in bivariate analyses (insurance, treatment status, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, and urban or rural residence) revealed that patients with Medicaid were less likely to enroll than those with private or commercial insurance (adjusted odds ratio, 0.054; CI, 0.003 to 0.899), and patients in treatment or maintenance were less likely to enroll than those relapsed or refractory to most recent therapy (adjusted odds ratio, 0.312; CI, 0.139 to 0.702). Primary reasons for nonenrollment were preference for standard of care (66.3%) and patient passed away (16.1%).

Conclusion: The CTSC is an effective, replicable model for addressing multilevel barriers to clinical trial participation. The findings highlight the need to increase opportunities for trial participation sooner after diagnosis and among patients with Medicaid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hematologic Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Medicaid
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Patient Preference
  • United States