View of physicians on and barriers to patient enrollment in a multicenter clinical trial: experience in a Japanese rural area

Hiroaki Yanagawa, Masatoshi Kishuku, Masashi Akaike, Hiroyuki Azuma, Minoru Irahara
International Archives of Medicine 2010, 3: 7

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials in the general practice setting are important for providing evidence on the effectiveness and safety of different agents under various conditions. In conducting these trials, the participation of physicians and patient recruitment are important issues. Various investigations in the literature have reported views and attitudes of physicians on various types of clinical trials. Nevertheless, there is still little information concerning physicians participating in a clinical trial and among them, those who could not recruit any patients (unsuccessful physician recruiters).

METHODS: In 2003, we collaborated in a large-scale multicenter study of Japanese hypertensive patients (COPE Trial). In Tokushima University Hospital and 18 other medical institutions, we investigated the views and attitudes of unsuccessful physician recruiters in comparison with successful physician recruiters, using a questionnaire.

RESULTS: The questionnaire was provided by mail to 47 physicians and 27 (57%) responded. The response rate was 79% for successful physician recruiters compared to 43% (P = 0.014) for unsuccessful physician recruiters. More successful physician recruiters (73%) than unsuccessful physician recruiters (42%) stated they had participated and enrolled patients in previous multicenter clinical trials. A significantly higher number of successful physician recruiters than unsuccessful physician recruiters (42%; P = 0.040) considered the presence of a support system with clinical research coordinators (CRC) as the reason for participation (80%). A large number of unsuccessful physician recruiters experienced difficulty in obtaining informed consent (67%), whereas a significantly smaller number of successful physician recruiters experienced such difficulty (20%; P = 0.014). The difficulties experienced by unsuccessful physician recruiters in the trial were as follows: inability to find possible participants (100%), difficulty in obtaining informed consent (58%), cumbersome procedures (58%), difficulty in long-term follow up (33%), and insufficient tools for explanation and obtaining informed consent (8%).

CONCLUSION: This survey showed that successful physician recruiters consider a support system with CRC of value, and that they are skillful in obtaining informed consent. These views and attitudes may have originated from past experience involving clinical trials. In this regard, we need to develop an infrastructure to enlighten physicians on this support system for the promotion of clinical trials.

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