Projects per year
Introduction: Cancer clinical trials have traditionally occurred in-person. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced adaptions of all aspects of cancer care (including clinical trials) so they can be delivered remotely. We aimed to quantify and qualify current use of telehealth and how it can be further improved and routinely integrated into cancer clinical trials in Australia.
Methods: We used a mixed-method study design, involving surveys of 14 multi-site Collaborative Cancer Clinical Trial Groups members across Australia (n = 98) and qualitative interviews with trial administrators and clinicians (n = 21).
Results: The results of our study indicated a strong willingness to use telehealth for certain transactions of clinical trials because it was perceived as a way of increasing efficiency and reach of services. Hybrid models (including telehealth and in-person methods), which considered transaction, cancer type, and patient preferences were most favorable. Additionally, telehealth allowed for greater equity to access and reduced trial burden but interestingly had little effect on increased diversity and recruitment. Factors influencing telehealth service implementation and uptake included communication among trial stakeholders, training, and learning from the experience of others in the clinical trials community.
Conclusion: Many but not all aspects of clinical trial care are appropriate to be delivered via telehealth. A hybrid approach provides flexibility to trial delivery and may support greater equity of access to trials in the future. Our findings and actionable recommendations support the need for greater planning, training, and guidelines to enable telehealth to be better integrated into clinical trials. Opportunities exist to expand the use of remote patient monitoring to enable more objective data collection from trial participants in the future.