Clinical trial recruitment: what do patients think?


REPORT FROM THE ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS – BOSTON, MA, SEPTEMBER 10-13, 2014 – The proliferation of new treatments in development for MS has made it increasingly challenging to recruit a sufficient number of eligible study subjects, most notably for studies involving pediatric or untreated patients.

According to the results of a survey of MS patients in Ireland, 65 of 120 respondents (54%) had never been asked to enroll in a trial (Jordan et al. ECTRIMS 2014; abstract P091). If asked to join a trial, 35 of 48 had participated. Most respondents stated that patients should join a clinical trial although only 38% said they would participate again. Barriers to participating in a clinical trial were uncertainty about the trial medication (59%), distance to travel (27%), time commitment (22%) and apprehension about the study procedures (7%). A majority of respondents said they would participate in a comparative trial; whereas only 29% said they would participate in a trial with a placebo arm. Only 49% thought that participation in research was beneficial; in part this appeared to reflect the study sample, many of whom had been living with MS for >30 years and felt that a drug trial would provide little benefit.

A recent survey in Italy found that over 50% were willing to participate in a trial (Maida et al. Clin Trials 2014; epublished August 3, 2014). Many were patients with a diagnosis of SPMS, and had already participated in a study. Patients’ perceived benefits of trial participation were the possibility of a cure, accessing a drug that was otherwise unavailable, receiving specialist care and contributing to medical research.

Guest Reviewer: Dr. Daniel Selchen, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario.

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