Clinical trials are crucial in the advancement of disease treatments. Results of a new survey, however, have showed that most Americans are not willing to participate in one.
In a survey of more than 1,500 individuals between 18 and 69 years old, researchers have found that only 35 percent of Americans are willing to enroll in a clinical trial.
The findings raise concerns particularly in the field of cancer research given that advances in cancer are first evaluated in clinical trials.
Despite the importance of clinical trials in the field of cancer treatments, research has shown that only 4 percent of patients diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. participate in these trials per year.
The study, which was commissioned by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, revealed several concerns about clinical trials.
Of those surveyed, 55 percent were worried about the safety of the clinical trial and its potential side effects, a concern that can be exacerbated by reported incidences of botched trials that resulted in unnecessary illnesses and even death.
Half were uncertain about insurance coverage and personal expenses; 48 percent had issues with the locations of the trials; 46 percent worry about getting a placebo; 35 percent were skeptical of getting treatment that has not yet been proven to work; and 34 percent were bothered by feeling like a guinea pig.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center chief medical officer Jose Baselga said a crisis in cancer research and discovery looms if the trend of low enrolment continues.
Baselga added that further education could help boost participation just as suggested by the study. After learning more about clinical trials, the number of those surveyed with positive impression of clinical trials jumped by 20 percent.
The result of the survey likewise suggests that many doctors do not discuss clinical trials with their patients, which could partly be blamed for lack of information.
Of the nearly 600 doctors involved in the survey, only 32 percent had clinical trial discussions with their patients at the start of the treatment.
"It is critical that the cancer community address common myths and misunderstandings around issues like effectiveness, safety, use of placebo, and at which point in treatment a trial should be considered," said Paul Sabbatini, also from Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Sabbatini added that failure to consider trials represents a missed opportunity for patients, doctors and researchers who try to develop better treatments.