Objective: To explore the knowledge of, and attitudes towards, randomised clinical trials among women in the community and breast cancer patients.
Design: Focus group interviews were conducted with women in the community and women previously treated for localised breast cancer.
Participants: Twenty one mothers or grandmothers of children attending a local primary school and 20 breast cancer patients identified from the records of the Medical Oncology Department, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, participated in one of eight focus group discussions examining knowledge of and attitudes towards randomised clinical trials.
Results: Most women did not have a good understanding of the need for clinical trials and the manner and safeguards with which they are conducted. They did not understand the need for randomisation and were often confused about the use of placebos. Many women were wary about medical research and saw it as a gamble, only to be considered if all else failed. Clinical trials were felt to be of benefit to future generations and perhaps family members if they should fall ill. However, they were not thought to be of benefit to the individual patient.
Conclusions: These results suggest that greater community awareness of clinical trials is needed to improve participation in clinical trials. These focus group findings require validation in a larger sample.