Measuring Clinical Trial-Associated Workload in a Community Clinical Oncology Program.

Posted: Mar 17, 2013
J Oncol Pract. 9. 4. 211-5.
KEYWORDS: Institutional Issues, Cancer


A tool for assessing research nurse workload supports informed staffing decisions.

Why this item may be useful

Existing algorithms used to determine funding allocations for clinical trials do not take into account the effect on staff workload of trial complexity and intensity of care needed. The authors developed a tool for assessing trial-associated workload. Major factors addressed included patient classifications (on active treatment, off treatment, or off study) and protocol classifications (treatment or cancer control). Trials were assigned a rating according to their estimated workload. A research nurse’s acuity score was calculated by multiplying the number of patients the nurse had on a trial by the workload score of that trial. Over an 11-year period, the number of new patients increased and the average acuity scores increased for both treatment and cancer control trials. Staffing adjustments based on knowledge of acuity scores led to decreased numbers of patients per research nurse and stabilization of the number of off-study patients.


  • Additional protocol-related factors addressed by the measurement tool include trial complexity, laboratory and testing requirements, potential toxicity, complexity of data collection, degree of coordination, and number of steps involved in randomization.
  • Because the acuity scores calculated using this tool are based on patient-level activities, they do not reflect the workload of the overall research team.
  • Fluctuations in accrual rates were associated with trial availability and were more prominent in control than in treatment trials.