We developed PRE-ACT to attempt to address patient knowledge gaps and attitudes about clinical trials before they ever see a physician to better prepare them to consider a clinical trial should one be available and appropriate for them.
—Neal Meropol, MD, FASCO
Clinical trials are the key to driving advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, yet, it is estimated that only about 5% of patients with cancer participate in clinical trials. That is why Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient-facing educational website, has teamed up with Neal Meropol, MD, FASCO, and PRE-ACT (Preparatory Education About Clinical Trials) to help improve patients’ knowledge and attitudes about clinical trials (www.cancer.net/pre-act).
PRE-ACT is an interactive video-based program that provides patients with tailored information about clinical trials in an effort to help them to be better prepared to make an informed decision about clinical trial participation.
“Video can be a powerful tool for patient education,” said Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP, FASCO, Editor-in-Chief of Cancer.Net. “Cancer.Net is pleased to have access to a theory-guided and professionally produced educational program such as PRE-ACT on our site to further clinical trial enrollment.”
Barriers to Clinical Trials
Previous research has shown that multiple barriers exist when it comes to patient participation in clinical trials. Among the more frequently cited barriers are the fear of side effects, concern about randomization to placebo, a lack of awareness of clinical trials, and concerns about the costs associated with participating in a clinical trial.
“We developed PRE-ACT to attempt to address patient knowledge gaps and attitudes about clinical trials before they ever see a physician to better prepare them to consider a clinical trial should one be available and appropriate for them,” said Dr. Meropol, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at UH Case Medical Center, and developer of the PRE-ACT program.
With the help of funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. Meropol and colleagues tested the efficacy of the PRE-ACT program in a phase III clinical trial that randomly assigned 1,255 patients to either the PRE-ACT tailored videos or to receive general text about clinical trials from the NCI. All patients completed a survey to assess baseline knowledge, attitudes, and values.
Results of the trial showed that the PRE-ACT videos were more effective in improving patient knowledge about and attitudes toward clinical trials. There was also a trend toward greater self-reported preparedness to consider clinical trials among those patients exposed to the PRE-ACT program.
Access for All
Dr. Meropol and Cancer.Net are now making the full video library of the PRE-ACT program available to all users for free. Since the program was originally tested, it has been enhanced and updated with new and up-to-date information.
Patients visiting Cancer.Net will have a choice of viewing the full video library or having videos recommended for them. Those who want a personalized experience may complete a survey assessing opinions and knowledge about clinical trials, values, and their decision-making process. Based on the responses, PRE-ACT will tailor a video-based educational program for each patient.
For example, if a patient expressed concerns about clinical trials because of a fear of side effects, the program might recommend a video that discusses how researchers ensure safety in clinical trials and how they work to manage side effects.
In addition to providing education, the PRE-ACT program was designed to empower patients to ask questions and obtain more information, Dr. Meropol said.
“My hope is that by making this program available, patients who are interested in learning more about clinical trials will access PRE-ACT, and, in doing so, PRE-ACT will deliver specific video content directed at their informational needs,” he said. ■
© 2015. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.