By Dr. Lindsay McNair, MD, MPH, MSB, Chief Medical Officer, WCG
It is an often-repeated statistic that only 3% -5% of patients with cancer participate in clinical trials for cancer therapies. The reasons for this are myriad. One survey found that only 16% of patients were aware of relevant clinical trials when discussing treatment options with their providers,1 although more than 50% of patients will agree to enroll in a trial when approached. About 20% of cancer clinical trials will never be completed, because they fail to enroll enough participants to be able to answer the research question.2 To better understand the reasons for low clinical trial participation, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) commissioned a committee to investigate this question and to develop a report on the barriers to research participation, and consensus recommendations for overcoming these barriers.2 One of the findings in the report was that concern about the potential costs of research participation prevented patients from finding out more about trials, or from participating in trials. In this paper, we look at the issue of the costs of research participation, and best practices for the reimbursement and compensation of research participants.