70% of US Oncologists Are Wrong About Clinical Trial Diversity

What You Should Know:

– COTA’s study reveals that 70 percent of oncologists believe patient populations enrolled in clinical trials for cancer research are representatively diverse.

COTA, Inc., an oncology real-world data and analytics company, announced insights from a study of practicing oncologists that reveals 83 percent of oncologists surveyed believe real-world data is critical to accelerating the development of potentially life-saving cancer drugs and treatments. The study, which was conducted by independent research firm PureSpectrum and COTA, analyzed 200 practicing oncologists’ perceptions on a number of issues related to cancer research and clinical trials, including: diversity, the use of real-world data (RWD), and the effect that the lightning-quick COVID-19 vaccine development process had on patient expectations.

The study found that oncologists believe it is important for all clinical trials to include a real-world data component, and the overwhelming majority (78 percent) would urge pharmaceutical companies and cancer research groups to use real-world data in all clinical trials as well. Additionally, 71 percent stated that they believe real-world data, when used as an external control arm, can make a clinical trial more efficient and representative.

Key Findings

The study also highlighted a few particular areas where oncologists’ perceptions differed from that of patients’ and from industry realities, including:

– The Pressing Need for More Diversity in Cancer Clinical Trials: While it’s well-documented that clinical trials often do not include representative samples of diverse populations, COTA’s study found that 70 percent of oncologists believe patient populations enrolled in clinical trials for cancer research are representatively diverse. They couldn’t be more wrong.

– A Growing Patient Expectation for Better Cancer Treatments, Faster: Unlike cancer patients, or those with cancer patients in their immediate household, who are frustrated with the slow pace of cancer treatment innovation, 64 percent of oncologists stated they are satisfied with the pace of typical cancer treatment clinical trials. However, a surprising 71 percent recognize that patient expectations for more speedy development of new cancer treatments have increased because of the perceived speed of COVID-19 vaccine development.

– An Opportunity for Engagement and Education Between Provider and Cancer Patient: While this study found that a majority of oncologists characterized their patients as enthusiastic to participate in clinical trials (58 percent) and willing to share their health data (92 percent), a prior consumer study indicated that many oncologists may not be discussing clinical trial participation and data-sharing with researchers. According to this consumer study, while 86 percent of respondents believe oncologists should be actively discussing the value of sharing data with researchers as part of patient interactions, less than half reported that their oncologist actually discussed just that.

“The pandemic highlighted the vital benefit real-world data can have when it comes to ensuring the efficacy and safety of swiftly developed vaccines aimed at decreasing the impact of COVID-19,” said C.K. Wang, MD, Chief Medical Officer at COTA, Inc. “It is not surprising that providers and patients now want to see the same turnaround time for cancer drugs and treatments. Real-world data is one solution to this challenge of speeding cancer-specific innovation.”

Today, oncology real-world data is typically collected from the electronic health records of cancer patients. This data is then anonymized for research-related use. Companies like COTA are taking a unique approach to ensure they are offering the highest quality oncology real-world data by collaborating specifically with leading academic and community-based cancer institutes. COTA also uses a proprietary, technology-supported human data abstraction method. Their approach ensures more diverse patient representation in comparison to current clinical trial processes — while also simplifying the utilization of this complex, fragmented patient data from the real world for both providers and pharmaceutical companies.

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