Create a clinical trials friendly environment

Integrate the importance of clinical trials into your institution’s culture

  • Most people working in research agree that clinical trials are important. But, what does it mean to integrate such research into an institution’s culture? It means that everyone- from front desk to executive staff- understands the basics of clinical trials and why they matter. Ideally, everyone would view trial-related work as central to their job—not an extra. This message should come from all corners of an institution—in what leaders say, in training offered to staff, and even in signage at your site. Why do it? Making clinical trials central to your organization’s culture: (1) shows potential participants that trials are routine, which can reduce anxiety, (2) helps staff understand how their contribution furthers progress against cancer, (3) increases enrollment in trials, and, (4) most importantly, helps advance the scientific knowledge.

Provide a comfortable physical environment for participants in trials

  • It may go without saying that the physical comfort of trial participants matters. But, over time even the most caring and intuitive among us can stop “seeing” the view through their eyes. Try walking through the arrival, greeting, waiting, treatment, and service areas at your institution. What do you see, hear, feel, and smell? Work with your institution to brighten rooms, reduce noise, install comfortable furniture, deal with heating or cooling, and add special touches. By seeing to their physical comfort you send participants a message that they are important to you and to the clinical trial.

Understand participants’ perceptions of being part of a clinical trial

  • Many factors that facilitate clinical trial participation and many that create barriers are well-documented in the literature. Altruistic feelings and viewing participation in a trial as special and important are known to facilitate participation. Known barriers include fear of placebos, suspicion about research, worry about costs, or practical matters like transportation problems. Ethnically diverse populations may have specific issues related to trust and/or language barriers. The better you understand facilitators and barriers, the better you can anticipate questions and communicate with participants in helpful ways.

Establish an efficient work environment to effectively conduct clinical trials

  • Just as you carefully consider participants’ needs you should not overlook staff needs. Review the work environment and find ways to help make daily tasks more efficient. For example, are staff members making several trips a day to a lab that could be rolled into a single trip? Are nurses trying to have sensitive telephone conversations with patients from a noisy location? Saving minutes eventually saves hours. Plus, reducing hassle quickly generates goodwill.

Discuss clinical trial options with every patient

  • This activity benefits you and your patients. First, presenting trial options to everyone helps ensure that all are treated equally. Second, the more potential participants who learn about your trials, the more who may choose to enroll. And, most importantly, the more you talk about trials the more they become a normal and important part of your institution’s work.

Ensure all staff members are trained in conducting clinical trials

  • This activity is part of integrating trials into your institution’s culture. But, it is important enough to restate here. People with different roles will need different types and levels of training. By training everyone, you create a setting where staff members understand and value clinical research and know their own role in it. With training, you make it easy for staff to answer participants’ and potential participants’ questions (or, to direct them to the right place for answers). Keep in mind the story about the NASA janitor who was asked what he was doing at the Kennedy Space Center. His reply, “I am helping to put a man on the moon." (SOURCE:

Ensure staff is aware of your institution’s available trials

  • Only when staff members know a particular trial exists can they take notice of potential participants. Staff should know enough about a trial to either present it effectively themselves or connect a potential participant with the right person to do so. Make it easy for staff to know about your trials. Institutions use varied approaches ranging from low-tech pocket cards and wall postings to electronic medical record systems.

Literature and Tools (291)

Image Representing Resource Type (Journal Article)
Posted: Feb 13, 2013.
J Oncol Pract. 8. 2. 91-6.
KEYWORDS: Staff Experience Level, Institutional Issues, Consent, Cancer
Image Representing Resource Type (Journal Article)
Posted: Feb 13, 2013.
J Clin Nurs. 16. 11. 2047-55.
KEYWORDS: Knowledge/Attitudes/Beliefs, Staff Experience Level, International, Cancer, Treatment
Image Representing Resource Type (Journal Article)
Posted: Feb 13, 2013.
Clin Trials. [Epub ahead of print]
KEYWORDS: Language or Cultural Barriers, Staff Experience Level, Physician Champions, Women, Minority Groups, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, Verbal Communications, Radio, TV, Web, Print Media, Brochure or Flyer, Letter, Cancer, Prevention
Image Representing Resource Type (Journal Article)
Posted: Jan 17, 2013.
Psychooncology. 15. 4. 273-84.
KEYWORDS: Knowledge/Attitudes/Beliefs, Language or Cultural Barriers, Non-English Speaking, Provider-Patient Relationship, Minority Groups, Hispanic or Latino, Cancer
Image Representing Resource Type (Journal Article)
Posted: Jan 17, 2013.
Oncologist. 17. 3. 377-83.
KEYWORDS: Provider-Patient Relationship, International, Consent, Provider Influence, Cancer, Phase 0,1,2