October 21, 2016 – Trial Expectations


Anchor lead: When people sign up for early clinical trials do they really understand the study? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Phase 1 clinical trials are early days for any new drug or therapy, designed to find an appropriate dose and schedule in humans, but many people who sign up for them have unrealistic expectations, a recent study published in the journal Cancer found. Most participants thought they would receive some clinical benefit from treatment, and about 10% thought they might be cured.  Tom Smith, head of palliative care at Johns Hopkins, says this points to a common scenario.

Smith: I think it’s a problem in that that conversation typically happens once at the beginning of the clinical trial, but if you ask patients how many of them had a subsequent conversation with their oncologist, or their cardiologist, or their cardiac surgeon about what does the future hold for me? Can I really be cured of this or not? If you ask most patients they don’t recall another conversation with their healthcare team about those critically important pieces.  :28

Smith says such conversations are hard to have and must often be repeated to get everyone on the same page.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.