|Home | About | Journals | Submit | Contact Us | Français|
Twelve community oncology practices have received a 2006 ASCO Clinical Trials Participation Award in recognition of their commitment to cancer research. The practices were selected on the basis of many factors, including patient accrual to clinical trials over a 3-year period, increased clinical trial participation among under-represented populations, and innovative techniques developed to overcome barriers to patient enrollment.
“With the Clinical Trials Participation Awards, we are honoring practices for their exceptional dedication to improving the quality of cancer care by increasing awareness in the community about the value of clinical trials participation,” says Joseph S. Bailes, MD, Interim Executive Vice President and CEO of ASCO.
One physician from each practice accepted the award during a special presentation at the 2006 ASCO Annual Meeting, but the emphasis of the award is on recognizing the entire research team. “Everyone on a research team is critical to the success of clinical trials,” says Michael Friedman, immediate past-chair of the Cancer Research Committee, which formed a subcommittee to evaluate the award applications. “We designed the award to acknowledge the efforts of all members of the research team, from physician to administrative staff.” The monetary aspect of the award was increased this year to provide funds for each practice to offer an event (such as a luncheon) to celebrate the award with all staff. In addition, ASCO provided award pins for each member of the research team.
The Clinical Trials Participation Award has evolved throughout the 3 years since its establishment, and a new application process and criteria were implemented this year. The process was described in detail in the May issue of Journal of Oncology Practice (2:122-123, 2006). In brief, practices were nominated by National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cooperative Groups, the ASCO Clinical Practice Committee, the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), and several community-based oncology research networks. All nominated practices were then invited to submit an online application. A grant from the Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups provides support for the award program.
The 12 practices are similar in that they participate predominantly in phase III Cooperative Group trials, followed by phase II Cooperative Group trials. Most of the practices are also involved in phase II and III industry-supported trials. Two-thirds of these award-winning practices reported that they participate in the NCI CCOP. The 12 recipients are diverse, however, in terms of practice size, geographic area served, and patient population. The practices vary in size from six to 58 physicians, with office staffs ranging from nine to 450 (full-time equivalents). For the majority of the practices, a high percentage of their physicians participate in clinical trials, with three practices (Green Bay Oncology Clinic, Michiana Hematology-Oncology, and St Joseph Mercy Hospital Cancer Program) reporting that all of their physicians participate.
Another indicator of practice size, the annual number of new patients, also varied widely, ranging from 1,105 to 10,554. The annual percentage of new patients enrolled on trials over the past 3 years averaged 2% to 19%, with most practices increasing accrual since 2003. Many of the practices serve large geographic areas and provide care for a variety of patient populations, including older patients, minority patients, and patients from rural areas, populations that have been under-represented in clinical trials to date. The percentage of minority patients enrolled in trials over the past 3 years ranged from 1% to 10%, and several practices substantially increased the number of minority patients enrolled in trials during that period.
The award-winning practices' responses to essay questions about methods used to increase accrual demonstrate a variety of innovative approaches to increasing patient accrual in general and increasing accrual of minority populations. These answers reflect insight into several issues that are integral to increasing clinical trial participation. Specifically, their answers highlight the following issues:
The experience of these practices provides valuable information for other community oncology practices wishing to enhance their involvement in clinical research. The JOP will share knowledge from the award recipients through a series of articles in upcoming issues. The content of the articles will be based on the essay questions and supplemented by in-depth interviews with research team members from the 12 practices.
“The practices selected for the Clinical Trials Participation Awards have demonstrated impressive innovation in enhancing their involvement in clinical trials,” says Friedman. “I encourage community oncologists to take advantage of the valuable learning opportunity afforded by this series of articles based on the recipients' experience and to apply some of the techniques in their own practices.”