Cancer patients' fears related to clinical trial participation: A qualitative study.

Posted: May 31, 2012
J Cancer Educ. 27. 2. 257-62.
KEYWORDS: Knowledge/Attitudes/Beliefs, Attitudes, Provider Influence


Patients’ fears regarding clinical trial participation are often surpassed by their trust in the recommendations of health care providers.

Why this item may be useful

This study determined that both the initial fear resulting from a cancer diagnosis and fears related to various aspects of clinical trials were barriers to clinical trial participation. However, a physician’s recommendation to participate was often the deciding factor for whether or not a patient participated in a clinical trial. This indicates that physicians must acknowledge patient fear in order to facilitate decision-making. Additionally, health care providers must inform patients of the option of participating in clinical trials and provide them with details on the clinical trials processes, which may eliminate the fear of trial participation.


  • Interviews were conducted with cancer patients to determine their knowledge and attitudes about participating in clinical trials.
  • Findings related to the emotional barrier of fear in cancer patients’ perceptions of participating in clinical trials and information on patient-provider communication were described.
  • Patients talked about fear in three different contexts: fear related to cancer diagnosis, fear of clinical trials, and an overall general fear of the unknowns associated with cancer, cancer treatment, and clinical trials.
  • Interview guide sample questions are included in the article.