Seeking Informed Consent to Cancer Clinical Trials: Evaluating the Efficacy of Doctor Communication Skills Training

Posted: Oct 24, 2011
Psychooncology. 16. 6. 507-16.
KEYWORDS: Staff Experience Level, Consent, Verbal Communications, Phase 0,1,2


A short communication skills course was helpful, but extended training is needed to improve physicians’ accrual success.

Why this item may be useful

It is estimated that 70-80 percent of nonaccrual is attributed to the physician. In many consent interviews, doctors omit or poorly present critical information about the trial. This study demonstrates that a training program based on strategies for gaining consent to early-phase clinical trials increased some aspects of decision-sharing behavior, reduced coercive behavior, and improved patients’ attitudes about clinical trials. These results suggest that clinical trial accrual may benefit from physician training in relevant communication skills.


  • This study evaluated the effectiveness of a communication skills training workshop.
  • Ten Australian oncologists and 90 patients were recruited from three major teaching hospitals.
  • Clinical trial consultations were audiotaped before and after oncologists attended the one-day training course, which consisted of presentation of strategies, a video model of ideal behavior, and practice using role-plays with an actor.
  • Patients completed questionnaires before and after the consultations and doctors completed a short measure of satisfaction after the consultations.