An article published in 2011 in Drug Information Journal recently caught our eye and is one that will soon be posted to our AccrualNet repository: “Are Pharmacists a Viable Channel for Education about Clinical Trial Participation?”
This is not necessarily a new idea. For those of us in the health communication field—and clinical trials education, in particular—we have learned and encourage the need for the whole research team and possibly other allied health professionals to be part of the education process.
Research has demonstrated that physicians are the gatekeeper for participation in clinical trials (Parreco LK et al., 2012). Patients have often claimed that, if asked, they would be interested in participating in trials (Jones JM et al., 2010). “If asked” is a key phrase here. Physicians often lack the time, and in many cases, enough information to fully educate potential participants about clinical trials. As such, research nurses have taken on much of that role. But what about other health professionals? Certainly, patient/nurse navigators have become a part of the team, as well as community health educators (Holmes DR et al., 2012).
So, how about pharmacists? The 2011 Simmons et al. research article mentioned above explains that Americans visit pharmacies at a rate five times greater than visiting their doctors. So, frequency of interaction is a positive here. It provides more opportunities to present educational materials and resources to those who may not see them at a doctor’s office due to shear numbers of contacts.
Further in the study, Simmons and colleagues asked Americans across the country about their interest in receiving clinical trials information from pharmacists and pharmacies. A large percentage of respondents (80%) indicated that they did have interest in receiving information from their pharmacists about clinical trials; however, they were not as inclined to ask for it (more than 58% said they were not likely or very likely to ask).
What do you think? Could this be an avenue we explore? If so, how might we leverage this potential educational opportunity—as well as other professionals/venues—to increase awareness and education about clinical trials?