Racial disparities still seem to exist among the black population in regards to clinical trial information -- at least according to a new study comparing how physicians approach clinical trial discussions among black and white cancer patients.
A study published in the American Association for Cancer Research claims that oncologists provided black patients with less information on clinical trials in comparison to white patients.
Susan Eggly, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Population Studies and Disparities Program at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, states that minority patients tend to receive less information, which could, in part, explain under-enrollment by minorities in clinical trials.
“These disparities could also lead to minority patients being enrolled in trials without fully understanding the purpose of the trial and the potential risk of participation,” says Eggly.
Eggly and her team examined 22 video-recorded clinic visit interactions between oncologists and patients during which clinical trial information was offered; half were with black patients and the other half were with white patients.
Researchers analyzed several aspects of the physician/patient discussions, which included an overview of clinical trials, along with components of the informed consent: purpose, risk, benefit, alternative treatment options, and that clinical trial participation was voluntary.
Data revealed that the clinical trial interactions with black patients were shorter and included less discussion, especially in regard to the purpose of the trial and risks associated with participation. Additionally, researchers found that oncologists spoke more about voluntary participation with black patients than white participants.
Research previously conducted by Eggly showed that, compared to white patients, black patients tended to ask fewer questions and trusted their physicians less. Also, physician biases affected the quality of communication in both her former study and the current study.
“Taking a closer look at interactions and the language used can help us to identify patterns of behavior and make necessary improvements that may ultimately lead to decisions that are in the best interest of each patient,” says Eggly.
As a former member of the cancer research team, I can honestly say that I did not witness such bias. If we felt they were an appropriate candidate for a clinical trial, we focused on every patient.
What has been your experience with cancer clinical trial recruitment? Do you feel that your cancer program focuses on minority groups just as equally for clinical trial participation?