Cancer patients want to take part in clinical trials

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

Given the drug approval process can take years, clinical trials often help provide access to unfunded medicines, but rates for participation in these trials are low in New Zealand. A national group of researchers sent a questionnaire to 700 cancer patients and found strong enthusiasm to take part in clinical trials, and most who had taken part before said they would again. Some feared being randomly assigned to a treatment, but the researchers say if doctors could help patients better understand the process then participation rates would likely improve.

Journal/conference: New Zealand Medical Journal

Organisation/s: , University of AucklandAuckland District Health Board

Media Release

From: New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)

Key points 

  • About 700 cancer patients around New Zealand have completed the questionnaire.
  • Cancer patients reported strong enthusiasm in clinical trials participation and this was seen across different age, gender, tumour types and location.
  • Many patients felt that trial participation could help themselves as well as others.
  • Some reported fear of randomization as a main disincentive in enrolling clinical trials. This could be improved by education on clinical equipoise.
  • We need to assess barriers at the level of clinicians and institution, as there is strong interest in clinical trials from New Zealand cancer patients.


Clinical trials often provide access to unfunded or investigational treatments and trial participation has improved cancer outcome around the world. To better understand why New Zealand has low clinical trials participation rates, we conducted a qualitative survey of cancer patients around New Zealand to determine what barriers are present at patient level.

Our patients reported strong enthusiasm in clinical trials across age, tumour group, demographics and location. Majority wanted to participate in clinical trials/ research to help others but few patients felt that fear of randomization held them back from participating in clinical trials.

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New Zealand

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