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Support services insights: How are we doing on clinical research?

August 30, 2016

This is the last post in our blog series on results from our 2015 national benchmarking survey on cancer program support services volumes, staffing, and operations.

Best-in-class cancer programs ensure their patients have access to cutting-edge interventions and treatments through clinical trials. But many struggle with designing program infrastructure, accruing patients, and choosing the right trials. To help members understand how their research program compares to their peers, we surveyed 140 cancer programs in our 2015 Cancer Support Services Volumes, Staffing, and Operations Survey. Keep reading to see what we learned.

Clinical research program structure varies little by facility type

Around one-third of respondents report having a dedicated oncology research program, while over 40% have an institutional research program with an oncology division. As expected, non-teaching community hospitals were the least likely to offer clinical trials (12.5%) and were the most likely to offer discrete oncology trials (19.4%) rather than having a robust clinical research program.

Most programs meet CoC clinical trial accrual requirements

In its 2012 standards, the Commission on Cancer (CoC) raised the bar for minimum accrual rates for nearly all of its categories. As shown below, the median accrual rate for most survey respondents exceeded their requirements. However, the average accrual rate reported by NCI-designated cancer programs is 36% below their requirement of 20%. This isn’t surprising given that only about 5% of cancer patients across the country enroll into clinical trials.

Average Accrual Rates of Respondents by CoC Accreditation Category


Looking at the average accrual rate by facility type reveals that academic medical centers (AMCs) and teaching hospitals have a relatively higher accrual rate compared to non-teaching hospitals.

Average Accrual Rates by Facility Type


Cancer programs engage in a variety of trial types, but tend to focus on treatment

There were also stark differences in the types of trials offered by survey respondents. NCI and/or group cooperative trials are the most widely offered, and they make up the largest percentage of trials across respondents. AMCs are the least likely to offer NCI or cooperative group trials (40%), but the most likely to offer investigator initiated trials (25%) and vendor-sponsored trials (40%).

Presence of Clinical Trial Types Across Respondents


Clinical trials that focus on treatment are the most widely offered and they make up the largest percentage of trials. Overall, substantially fewer trials are focused on prevention and screening, two areas that some cancer experts think may offer the greatest opportunity for fighting cancer. Non-teaching community hospitals are the exception—more than a quarter of the trials they offer are focused on screening and one-fifth are focused on supportive care.

Focus of Clinical Trials Across Respondentsimage

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