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Recruiting People In

Clinical trials suffer from a dearth of participants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Only some 10 percent of people in the US participate in clinical trials and only between 3 percent and 5 percent of cancer patients partake in trials testing new treatments, Laura Landro writes at the Journal. Overall, she adds, about 40 percent of clinical trials don't recruit enough people.

But the US National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and research groups want to make changes to overcome some of these recruitment issues, Landro says. For instance, the NIH and FDA have developed new formats for researchers devising study protocols to use that more clearly describe the study's purpose, risk and benefits, and time required of participants, and the agencies are working on modernizing informed consent documents so they are easier to understand.

Landro adds that studies have indicated that patients are more apt to participate in a clinical trial when they trust the physician who recommends it. When Yolanda Johnson was first diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, she declined to take part in a study and she tells the Journal that she was in a state of shock at the time. Later, after her cancer spread and a nurse took the time to explain what the trial entailed, Johnson decided to take part in a trial of an immunotherapy drug. "She took the time to explain what it was all about," Johnson tells Landro. "The way it was presented made me feel more comfortable and at ease and there was no pressure at all."