Low Income Is a Barrier to Clinical Trial Enrollment, Study Suggests

From the article on the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Currents Blog:

In a recent survey study, researchers affiliated with the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) found that patients with annual household incomes below $50,000 were less likely to participate in a cancer clinical trial than those with higher incomes. Participation rates were lowest for patients with annual incomes of less than $20,000.

The findings were published October 15 in JAMA Oncology.

Led by Joseph M. Unger, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the study used data from a 2012 survey of cancer patients who were eligible for participating in clinical trials at eight geographically diverse cancer treatment centers and for whom income data were available.

Seventeen percent of patients with annual household incomes of $50,000 or more participated in a trial, the researchers reported, compared with 13 percent of patients with incomes of $50,000 or less. Participation rates were just 11 percent for patients with annual household incomes below $20,000.

A key feature of the study was that patients were enrolled before they had made any decisions about whether to join a trial, Dr. Unger noted. The findings confirm those of a previous observational study by Dr. Unger and his colleagues, which found that patients with annual household incomes below $50,000 were 27 percent less likely than patients with higher incomes to participate in clinical trials.

“Although each study had its own limitations and neither alone was definitive, the fact that very similar patterns were identified in two sequential, independent studies provides compelling evidence that the observation of income disparities in clinical trial enrollment may be valid,” Dr. Unger said.

Read the full article on the Cancer Currents Blog.

See the study in JAMA.