A qualitative study of barriers and facilitators to adolescents and young adults’ participation in cancer clinical trials: Oncologist and patient perspectives

Renata Abrahão, Elysia Alvarez, Austin R. Waters, Crystal C. Romero, Melissa M. Gosdin, Hiba Naz, Bradley H Pollock, Anne C. Kirchhoff, Theresa H.M. Keegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite efforts to increase participation of adolescents and young adults (AYAs; 15–39 years) in cancer clinical trials (CTs), enrollment remains very low. Even when provided access to CTs, AYAs are less likely to participate than children and older adults. A better understanding of oncologist- and AYA survivor-reported barriers, facilitators, and potential areas for CT enrollment improvement is needed. Procedures: From December 2019 to August 2020, we conducted 43 semi-structured interviews with oncologists (n = 17) and AYA cancer survivors (n = 26) who were offered and/or participated in CTs at cancer centers in California and Utah. Thematic analyses were used to interpret the findings. Results: Oncologists identified a lack of available CTs, strict eligibility criteria, lack of awareness of open CTs, and poor communication between pediatric and adult oncologists as major barriers to enrollment. AYA cancer survivors identified financial and psychosocial barriers, and a poor understanding of what a CT means and its potential benefits as barriers to enrollment. Areas for improvement identified by oncologists and AYAs include educational, financial, and psychosocial support to AYAs. Oncologists also emphasized the need to increase CT availability, improve awareness of open CTs, and better communication between both pediatric and adult oncologists and oncologists and AYAs. Conclusions: For AYAs with cancer, a lack of CT eligibility and physician awareness of open CTs likely factor into their lower CT enrollment. Potential strategies to improve AYA enrollment in CTs require comprehensive collaboration between pediatric and adult institutions, as well as educational, psychosocial, and financial support to AYAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • adolescents and young adults
  • barriers
  • cancer
  • clinical trial
  • facilitators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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