Participation in clinical trials improves patient outcomes, yet, only 7% of Ontario cancer patients are enrolled into a clinical trial. Lack of awareness, understanding and accessibility of clinical trials are some of the commonly reported barriers. In an effort to overcome some of these challenges, the Clinical Trials Navigator (CTN) position was recently piloted in Windsor Essex. The CTN program is designed to serve all Canadian cancer patients by identifying clinical trials across North America for which they may be eligible. The CTN also directly supports physicians to find appropriate trials for their patients. To date, more than 80 patients have prescribed to this program, with 80% of those patients residing in Windsor-Essex. Twenty-five per cent of this local patient population are either now enrolled in a clinical trial or are awaiting enrollment, a dramatic increase in local patient access to clinical trials.
In addition to directly serving patients, the CTN program is creating a database of patient and physician-user information that will provide further insight into patient and physician-centred barriers surrounding clinical trial enrollment. Analysis of this unique database will also aid in the monitoring clinical trial enrollment efficacy and identify reasons for patients’ ineligibility for open trials. With this information, we aim to reduce barriers by educating physicians and patients to enable earlier referrals and increase clinical trials enrollment. We will also analyze the change in patient and physician attitudes regarding clinical trials following awareness and educational initiatives.
We anticipate that the findings from our study will serve to maximize benefits within the CTN program and reduce challenges associated with clinical trial enrollment. Future work will focus on improving the clinical trials matching system by developing enhanced computer platforms. Overall, this will increase aid patient as they navigate through the healthcare system and improve patient outcomes.