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Title: A randomised controlled trial of an audiovisual patient information intervention in cancer clinical trials
Authors: Hutchison, Catherine B.
Supervisor(s): Paley, John
Wyke, Sally
Keywords: clinical trials
patient refusal
informed consent
decision making
Issue Date: May-2008
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Hutchison, C. and McCreaddie, M. (2007) The process of developing audiovisual patient information: opportunities and challenges. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 16 (11), pp. 2047-2055.
Hutchison, C., Cowan, C. and Paul, J. (2007) Patient understanding of research: developing and testing of a new questionnaire. European Journal of Cancer Care, 16 (2), pp. 187-196.
Hutchison, C., Cowan, C., McMahon, T. and Paul, J. (2007) A randomised controlled study of an audiovisual patient information intervention on informed consent and recruitment to cancer clinical trials. British Journal of Cancer, 97 (6), pp. 705-711.
Hutchison, C. (2008) Trial recruitment and audiovisual patient information. Cancer Nursing Practice, 7 (1), pp. 19-20.
Abstract: Introduction and background Recruitment to cancer clinical trials needs to be improved, as does patient understanding about clinical trials, to enable patients to make an informed choice about whether or not to take part. The main reason that clinically eligible patients do not take part in clinical trials is because they refuse; poor understanding of the research has been associated with patient refusal. Audiovisual patient information (AVPI) has been shown to improve knowledge/understanding in various areas of practice but there is limited information about its effect in the cancer clinical trial setting, particularly in relation to recruitment rates. Understanding the research is necessary for informed consent, and it was hypothesised that if patient understanding about clinical trials was increased with AVPI, then this could result in a reduction in the number of patients refusing clinical trials, and therefore provide an ethical approach to improving recruitment. This study aimed to test the impact of an audiovisual patient information intervention on recruitment to randomised cancer clinical trials (refusal rates), patient understanding of the information given, and levels of anxiety. Reasons for patients’ decisions about trial participation were also assessed. Method An AVPI intervention was developed that aimed to address the common misconceptions associated with randomisation and clinical equipoise, as well as improve patient understanding generally of randomised cancer trials, and of other core clinical trial informational requirements, such as voluntariness. Patients were randomised to receive either AVPI in addition to the standard trial-specific written information, or the written information alone. A new questionnaire was developed to assess patient understanding (also referred to as knowledge) in the randomised trial setting and, following testing with patients and research nurses, this was shown to be reliable and valid. Patients completed self-report questionnaires to assess their understanding (new knowledge questionnaire) and anxiety (Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), at baseline and after they had made their decision about clinical trial entry, when their perceptions of the intervention, as well as factors contributing to their decision were also determined (this tool incorporated Jenkins and Fallowfield’s (2005) questionnaire which assessed reasons for accepting and declining randomised cancer trials). Results A total of 173 patients with breast cancer (65%), colorectal cancer (32%) and lung cancer (3%) were entered into the main study. The median age was 60 (range 37-92 years). There was no difference in clinical trial recruitment rates between the two groups: 72.1% in the AVPI group and 75.9% in the standard information group. The estimated odds ratio for refusal (intervention/no intervention) was 1.19 (95% ci 0.55-2.58, p=0.661). Knowledge scores increased more in the intervention group compared to the standard group (U= 2029, p=0.0072). The change in anxiety score between the arms was also statistically significant (p=0.011) with anxiety improving in the intervention arm more than in the no-intervention arm. The estimated difference in the median anxiety change score between the groups is –4.6 (95% ci –7.0 to –2.0). Clinical trial entry was not influenced by tumour type, stage of cancer, age, educational qualifications or previous research experience, however, there was a modest association with deprivation status (p=0.046) where more affluent patients were the least likely to consent to a trial. Educational qualifications and stage of cancer were independently associated with knowledge: patients who were better educated had higher levels of knowledge about randomised trials, and patients who had limited stage of cancer had higher baseline knowledge than patients with advanced cancer. Acceptability of the intervention was high with 93% of those who watched it finding it useful, and 42% stating that it made them want to take part in the clinical trial. Personal benefit and altruism were key motivating factors for clinical trial participation, with reasons for refusal being less clear. Discussion and conclusions Although the potential for AVPI to increase clinical trial recruitment rates was highlighted in the literature, in this study, AVPI was not shown to have any effect on refusal rates to randomised cancer trials. However, by improving patient understanding prior to decision making, AVPI was shown to be a useful addition to the consent process for randomised cancer trials. AVPI addresses the fundamental ethical challenges of informed consent by improving patient understanding, and supports the ethical framework integral to Faden and Beauchamp’s (1986) theory of informed consent. The new knowledge questionnaire was shown to be a sensitive and effective instrument for measuring understanding of randomised clinical trials in the cancer setting, although it would benefit from further testing. The AVPI appears to reduce anxiety at the decision making time point and has been shown to be an acceptable medium for patients. This study confirms existing findings from studies assessing factors affecting decision making, with personal benefit and altruism being key motivating factors, and reasons for refusal being less clear. The need for further qualitative work in this area is highlighted to gain a deeper understanding of what is important to patients, in terms of why they refuse clinical trial participation. Implications for practice and further research Several implications for practice have been identified, including using AVPI as part of the standard information package for patients considering randomised cancer trials, and focussing on patient and staff education in this area. The knowledge questionnaire could be introduced to routine practice as a tool to determine patient understanding prior to decision making, allowing clinicians the opportunity to correct any misconceptions prior to consent. Further research focussing on AVPI specific to individual trials would be helpful, to determine if a more customised approach would be of benefit in terms of clinical trial recruitment. The importance of studying other aspects of the consent process such as the interaction between the clinician and the patient, in addition to more detailed exploration of the factors affecting patients’ decisions were highlighted.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health

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