Results of a qualitative study of research and clinical professionals regarding their perspectives related to recruitment of minority patients for cancer clinical trials suggest that bias may contribute to the disproportionately low clinical trial enrollment of these patients. These findings were published in Cancer.

Of all adult patients with cancer in the United States who are candidates for participation in a clinical trial, less than 5% are enrolled. Furthermore, the proportion of patients belonging to a racial or ethnic minority enrolled in these cancer clinical trials is substantially lower than the proportion of these minority groups in the overall US population.

“A fundamental social determinant of health in the United States, race continues to shape access to important resources, including cancer clinical trials,” the study authors noted.

In contrast to previous studies that have evaluated the perspectives of physicians regarding patient- and study design-related factors that interfere with clinical trial enrollment, the aim of this study was to explore potential clinician/researcher-related barriers, such as bias, to enrollment of minority patients in cancer clinical trials.


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This study was conducted during November and December 2010 at 5 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers affiliated with the consortium for Enhancing Minority Participation in Clinical Trials (EMPaCT). Interviews were held with 4 groups of clinical trial “stakeholders” — principal investigators, research staff, referring clinicians, and cancer center leaders — regarding their attitudes and experiences with enrolling minority patients in cancer clinical trials. Transcripts of these sessions were analyzed for thematic content.