African Americans Prone To Display Negative Perceptions of Cancer-Related Clinical Trials

CHICAGO (May 19, 2015) — African-American patients have a disproportionately high rate of cancer, and yet are less likely than Caucasian patients to participate in oncologic clinical trials that can significantly improve quality of life. Researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center and Temple University recently explored the differences between African Americans who did and did not participate in a clinical trial and found significant discrepancies in perceptions and beliefs between the two groups. Lead study author Daniel M. Geynisman, MD, attending physician and assistant professor of medical oncology at Fox Chase, will present these findings during a poster session on Monday, June 1 at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Dr. Geynisman and colleagues (principal investigators Sarah Bass, PhD, MPH, associate professor of public health at Temple University and Linda Fleisher, PhD, MPH, senior scientist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and adjunct faculty member at Fox Chase) conducted a perceptual mapping survey of adult African American cancer patients at two US-based cancer centers. The patients were asked to report how much they agreed or disagreed on a 0-10 scale (0=strongly disagree, 10=strongly agree) regarding items such as clinical trials’ benefits, barriers, and value, as well as information on the amount of support they’ve received from individuals around them and the patients’ beliefs about healthcare providers. This is the second of a three-phase study.

“We spoke to African American patients who both participated and did not participate in clinical trials to find out particular reasons why each group chose a different path,” Dr. Geynisman said. “As it turned out, there were a number of significant differences between those who did and did not participate in a trial. The development of targeted tools to help address some of those differences should be the next step.”

For the 41 patients (mean age of 60 years), 54% had not enrolled in a clinical trial within the past nine months. The researchers found that those individuals who participated in clinical trials more strongly agreed that their doctor had provided enough information in order to make a decision about their clinical trial involvement. They also more strongly believed the benefits outweighed the possible adverse effects and that trials offered the best available treatment for cancer. Non-participants believed that a clinical trial would make them sicker, that important information would be withheld, and that no one spoke with them about participation.

As a result, the researchers indicated that greater attention needs to be given to negative perceptions regarding clinical trials, and it is important that all African American cancer patients receive detailed information regarding their treatment options. As a result, this group will likely see better outcomes from their treatment. “It is crucial to understand the obstacles African Americans face in taking part in oncologic clinical trials so that effective interventions can be developed,” Dr. Geynisman said.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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