Early phase cancer clinical trials have become increasingly complicated in terms of patient selection and trial procedures—this is reflected in the increasing length of participant information sheets (PIS). Informed consent for early phase clinical trials has been contentious due to the potential ethical issues associated with performing experimental research on a terminally ill population which has exhausted standard treatment options. Empirical studies have demonstrated significant gaps in patient understanding regarding the nature and intent of these trials. This study aims to test whether enhanced informed consent for patient education can improve patient scores on a validated questionnaire testing clinical trial comprehension.
This is a randomised controlled trial that will allocate patients who are eligible to participate in one of four investigator-initiated clinical trials at the Royal Marsden Drug Development Unit to either a standard arm or an experimental arm, stratified by age and educational level. The standard arm will involve the full length trial PIS, followed by electronic or paper administration of the Quality of Informed Consent Questionnaire Parts A and B (QuIC-A and QuIC-B). The experimental arm will involve the full length trial PIS, exposure to a two-page study aid and 10 online educational videos, followed by administration of the QuIC-A and QuIC-B. The primary endpoint will be the difference (using a one-sided two-sample t-test) in the QuIC-A score, which measures objective understanding, between the standard and experimental arm. Accrual target is at least 17 patients per arm to detect an 8 point difference (80% power, alpha 0.05).
Ethics approval was granted by the National Health Service Health Research Authority on 15 June 2020—IRAS Project ID 277065, Protocol Number CCR5165, REC Reference 20/EE/0155. Results will be disseminated via publication in a relevant journal.