Nurses Can Help Educate Patients About Clinical Trials

From Janet Lewis, RN, CCRP and Brooke Barrick, CCRP:

I believe in Research and the research process.  At J. Lewis Research, Inc. I have found that our whole study team—from sponsors to subjects–is important in leading patients to trials.  When I hire an employee, I assess how they feel about research, and feel it is important to hire people who believe in research, too.

I think it’s especially crucial to know how your coordinators (whether or not they are nurses) and investigators feel about research, since they are on the frontlines of bringing people into trials. Even though we generally cannot put our own family members on our own studies, I want to know: if you could, would you put your family or your child on a research study?  If you answer that you would never do that, then how can you possibly expect others to volunteer themselves or their family members? Do you believe in research? If not, how can you recruit for something that you do not believe in yourself?

Sponsors should believe in the protocols for which they are selecting sites, and they would do well to ask potential PI’s the aforementioned questions when they are choosing sites. If the answer is “no”, then I think you should look elsewhere.

The key to recruitment is to believe in your studies.  Choose studies that are going to help others in the long run.  Through the years, because of research, we have saved many lives.  Patients that normally would not have had a physical, lab work or an x-ray were found to have new diagnoses that they did not know they had: some minor; some cancer, or a life threatening heart problem. Because of research I have hope that due to the HPV vaccine my granddaughter may not have to see friends die of cervical cancer. I believe the news media should write more of the inspiring stories that come from research.  How many children are vaccinated that would not otherwise be vaccinated?  What do new vaccines and treatments save us, collectively, in healthcare costs?  I consider our research patients “heros” for volunteering, and believing in the research process.

Case Western Reserve University has received a $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in hopes of increasing the number of cancer patients participating in clinical trials.  The five-year grant will be used to develop a program for oncology nurses to inform and educate potential patients about cancer clinical trials.  Less than 5% of cancer patients participate in clinical trials, which can hinder the development of new treatments.  Part of the program will utilize video lessons to teach nurses how to approach patients and offer clinical trials as a treatment option to qualified patients.

Reasons patients were hesitant about participating in a clinical trial include a lack of awareness, a belief that trials are a last resort, a fear of side effects, and that they will receive a placebo in place of treatment.  Another barrier to enrolling patients in clinical trials is the negative attitude that some nurses and other health professionals have towards research. Cancer trials are not alone in their struggle to find and enroll qualified patients.  Fewer than 5% of eligible adults participate in clinical trials.  One major reason for this lack of participation is that the general population is usually unaware of research opportunities.  A poll regarding children in research, conducted by the University of Michigan, found that 5% of parents said their children have participated in a clinical trial.  However, about 50% of those parents would be willing to enroll their child in a clinical trial for a new treatment or vaccine.

What Dries Patient Interest in Clinical Trials? 

J. Lewis Research, Inc.

J. Lewis Research, Inc.

We are a unique research company in Salt Lake City with over 25 years of experience conducting clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry, specializing in Phase II, III and IV clinical trials.