Are there systematic barriers to participation in cancer treatment trials by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients in Australia?

Joan Cunningham, Gail Garvey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    Abstract

    Objective: To identify factors that may systematically reduce opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to participate in cancer clinical trials. 

    Methods: Analysis of online documents from the Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry for cancer treatment trials (Phase 3, 4 or Not Applicable) with at least one Australian site, registered in 2014–2018. 

    Results: Among 365 eligible trials, most (89%) had sites only in major cities/inner regional areas, but 39% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live outside these areas. Seven cancer types accounted for 58% of cancers among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but only 46% of trials addressed these cancers. Most trials specified exclusions relating to comorbidities/health status. A substantial minority of trials (38%) explicitly referred to investigator opinion/judgment as a relevant determinant of patient eligibility. 

    Conclusion: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients appear to have a reduced opportunity to participate in trials because of where they live, their type of cancer and their general health status, as well as for less transparent reasons relating to investigator judgment. 

    Implications for public health: Greater transparency and greater scrutiny of barriers to trial participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are needed to ensure equitable access.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-45
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
    Volume45
    Issue number1
    Early online date21 Dec 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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