Introduction: To evaluate the effects of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on lung cancer trials, we surveyed investigators and collected aggregate enrollment data for lung cancer trials across the world before and during the pandemic.
Methods: A Data Collection Survey collected aggregate monthly enrollment numbers from 294 global lung cancer trials for 2019 to 2020. A 64-question Action Survey evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on clinical trials and identified mitigation strategies implemented.
Results: Clinical trial enrollment declined from 2019 to 2020 by 14% globally. Most reductions in enrollment occurred in April to June where we found significant decreases in individual site enrollment (p = 0.0309). Enrollment was not significantly different in October 2019 to December of 2019 versus 2020 (p = 0.25). The most frequent challenges identified by the Action Survey (N = 172) were fewer eligible patients (63%), decrease in protocol compliance (56%), and suspension of trials (54%). Patient-specific challenges included access to trial site (49%), ability to travel (54%), and willingness to visit the site (59%). The most frequent mitigation strategies included modified monitoring requirements (47%), telehealth visits (45%), modified required visits (25%), mail-order medications (25%), and laboratory (27%) and radiology (21%) tests at nonstudy facilities. Sites that felt the most effective mitigation strategies were telehealth visits (85%), remote patient-reported symptom collection (85%), off-site procedures (85%), and remote consenting (89%).
Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges for lung cancer clinical trials conduct and enrollment. Mitigation strategies were used and, although the pandemic worsened, trial enrollment improved. A more flexible approach may improve enrollment and access to clinical trials, even beyond the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; Clinical trials; Lung cancer; Telehealth.
Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.