Margo Michaels is a judge for this challenge and was the founder and director of the Education Network to Advance Cancer Clinical Trials (ENACCT), a national advocacy organization that focused on increasing patient participation in cancer clinical research. She is now principal at Health Action and Access Consulting.
A common mistake in this field is that we either inundate patients with information or provide them no information at all. At every institution treating cancer patients need to receive enough—but not too much— information about their treatment options (including clinical trials) to encourage inquiry and dialogue with the treatment team.
When someone is diagnosed with a disease like cancer, the window between diagnosis and treatment is extremely narrow. They want to make a treatment decision quickly and start treatment immediately after diagnosis. For this reason, there’s an important challenge with clinical trials: how do we motivate inquiry during that narrow window so that patients ask about and research clinical trials? Margo estimates that currently 10-15% of cancer patients are assertive in searching for ANY KIND of treatment information, including clinical trials, after receiving their diagnosis.
Education tactics about clinical trials for the public versus the patient should be different, since these groups have different needs.
In her opinion, a key opportunity for improvement lies in facilitating the improvement of face-to-face communication about clinical trials, whether with patients, community members, or institutions.