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Madison, Wisconsin – A brief report released by the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center describes rural residents’ attitudes toward clinical trials participation.


Rural Perceptions of Clinical Trials presents findings from two focus groups conducted by Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI) staff in rural Adams County as a part of CHDI's Rural Cancer Disparities Project.


Clinical trials have dramatically improved cancer treatment over the past few decades. Most approaches used to treat cancer today would not have become available without advancements discovered in clinical trials. Only a small fraction of cancer patients, however, have participated in a clinical trial. To increase patient participation, it is important to understand community perceptions regarding clinical trials.


Rural focus group participants were also asked to describe what would support their decision to enroll in a clinical trial and what would be a barrier.


The focus group participants described what would motivate them to participate in a clinical trial: 1) being treated as human beings, not a “lab rat,” by study staff; 2) Witnessing the sincerity of study staff to help establish a trusting relationship; 3) Hoping for an extended life and/or a better quality of life; and 4) Knowing that their participation will make a difference and how it will make a difference.


Common barriers identified by both focus groups included transportation, additional costs, additional time, feeling like a “lab rat,” additional side effects, loyalty to their current physician and/or health system and the fact that their physician didn’t recommend a clinical trial.


Rural focus group participants expressed a willingness to participate in clinical trials. The participants viewed the relationship between study staff and potential participants as the crucial cornerstone for successful recruitment and retention of rural residents. Once participants feel that they have established trust with the physician-researcher and associated staff, they would be more inclined to participate, as well as to communicate positively with others regarding the research. By demonstrating sincerity, respect and trustworthiness, study staff is more likely to build rapport with rural patients, who will then be more inclined to enroll in clinical trials.


Participants also stated that study staff needs to help mitigate the significant practical barriers, such as transportation and other additional costs, that hinder participation of rural residents in clinical trials.

Date Published: 04/30/2014

News tag(s):  cancerresearch

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Relationships with Study Staff Matter to Rural Patients

Last updated: 04/30/2014
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