A study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2012 meeting in Chicago finds there is a strong positive correlation between the amount of money a patient makes and how likely they are to participate in a clinical trial for an oncology product.
The study of 5,499 patients included those newly diagnosed with breast, prostate, lung or colorectal cancers, of which 9% ultimately participated in a clinical trial. Cost, concluded the study's authors, was indeed a prominent factor in determining who would participate in a clinical trial.
Patients earning less than $50,000 a year were 27% less likely to enroll in a clinical trial than were higher-income patients, while those earning less than $20,000 a year were 44% less likely to enroll.
The study also looked at whether patients had expressed concerns about the cost of the trial, and found a disproportionate percentage of lower-income earners expressed cost concerns. Fifty-three percent of those earning less than $20,000 a year expressed concerns about costs while just 24% of those earning more than $100,000 a year expressed those same concerns.
To study co-author Dr. Kathy Albain, the gap in both participation and concerns represents an opportunity for companies to educate patients regarding the benefits of participating in clinical trials.
"[Companies and clinicians] need to do a better job addressing misperceptions they may have about the costs of participating in clinical trials, and present all options available to them for reimbursement," explained Albain.
Albain also expressed concern about the validity of trials missing large swaths of socioeconomic segments of the population. "If a whole segment is missing or is under represented in a clinical trial, we won't know whether the findings will hold up for that segment," she said.
While the National Cancer Institute says the costs of participating in a clinical trial are not necessarily higher than they are for other forms of care, the study said a contributing factor might be the indirect costs to lower-income individuals who may be unable to take substantial or sustained time off from work or afford co-pays.
EurekAlert - Lower income patients less likely to participate in cancer clinical trials