The following article features coverage from the 2018 Oncology Nursing Society’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage. 

WASHINGTON, DC — A nurse-led program may improve clinical trial accessibility and participation for patients with hematologic cancers and disorders, according to findings presented at the 2018 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Annual Congress.

Scott Kerwin, MN, RN, CCRC, CCRN, said, “We know that fewer than 10% of cancer patients participate in clinical trials and that only 20% of patients say that their physician discussed clinical trials with them, which is unfortunate because overall survival rates in some cancer populations are significantly higher in patients who took part in clinical trials vs those who don’t.”

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A needs assessment revealed that some barriers to clinical trial enrollment included a lack of awareness of the healthcare team to trial options, limited trial accessibility across different cancer centers, patient misconceptions regarding clinical trials, and the lack of patient-friendly clinical trial support and resources. 

Kerwin and his team developed the Jason Carter Clinical Trials Program in July 2017 to improve the current landscape for clinical trial enrollment. The program consisted of 1-on-1 telephone and email nurse support, a user-friendly web-based tool that provided details of ongoing trials from that’s easily understood, patient education resources for nurses, as well as information for a travel grant program. 

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The site allowed patients to easily access more than 1200 active clinical trials that are based in the United States; actively recruiting; and are phase 1, 2, or 3. Patients were further able to see trials listed by condition, age, transplant status, as well as immunotherapies including CAR-T and small molecule therapies. 

Kerwin concluded that “This program provides tools and personalized support to make clinical trial participation a reality for patients with hematologic malignancies and disorders, demonstrating how oncology nursing roles and expertise can make a measureable impact on patient health outcomes.”


Kerwin S, Foster J, Jacobson D, Engelby K, Moore H, Murphy E. Nursing in clinical trials education – building a patient-centered program to overcome accessibility barriers. Oral presentation at: ONS 43rd Annual Congress; May 17-20, 2018; Washington, DC.