Advocacy for clinical trials: do the Royal Colleges and State cancer councils play an appropriate role?
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BACKGROUND: Endorsement of clinical trials by prominent local or national organisations may help to promote public awareness of and enhance patient and doctor participation in randomised trials. METHOD: A survey was undertaken of the specialist medical colleges of Australia, State and Territory cancer councils and national cancer organisations, inquiring about their formal position on patient participation in randomised clinical trials and any activities they undertake to promote clinical trial participation. RESULTS: Responses were received from 18 of 20 organisations surveyed. The majority (13/18) support the idea that patients should be invited to participate in well-designed clinical trials. Only 9/18 organisations have any formal policy encouraging clinical trial participation and only five undertake any activity to promote clinical trials. These activities relate more to facilitating clinician participation through affiliation with cooperative oncology groups/clinical trial organisations and provision of funds for data management. Only two organisations are proactive in promoting trials to clinicians and patients. CONCLUSION: Promoting/endorsing clinical trial participation is a priority area identified in the national cancer control plan and implementation strategy. Prominent organisations such as specialist medical colleges and State cancer councils should explore ways in which they can act as advocates to promote clinical trial participation.
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