Healthcare providers are less likely to talk to Black patients with metastatic breast cancer about opportunities to enroll in clinical trials than they are with patients from other racial or ethnic backgrounds, researchers reported at the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting.

The researchers surveyed 424 patients with metastatic breast cancer, 102 (24%) of whom self-identified as Black, about their issues, concerns, motivations, and barriers during their disease experience. Of the Black respondents, 83% were somewhat or very likely to consider participation in a clinical trial, compared to just 51% of their non-Black counterparts. However, 40% of Black respondents said they had never been informed about their clinical trial options, compared with 33% of non-Black respondents.

“Actionable steps to increase Black patient participation include: (a) enhancing awareness about trials by informing patients, increasing education, training healthcare providers to deliver patient-friendly information in an unbiased manner, and providing messaging from people of shared racial/ethnic identity and health experience; (b) building trust through clear communication; (c) addressing concerns about side effects, effectiveness, harm, and fair treatment; and (d) helping patients find and access trials,” the researchers concluded.

In a subsequent interview, the primary author identified additional ways for oncology nurse navigators to change the trajectory of clinical trial enrollment: “First and foremost, patients must be asked by their physicians and medical team to enroll in a clinical trial. Patients also need more nurse navigators in community-based cancer centers to help guide them through healthcare systems with the resources they need for a good clinical outcome. In addition, patient navigation may help to eliminate health disparities and improve equity in cancer care.”

Find all of the resources you need as an oncology nurse navigator, including courses, toolkits, competencies, books, and ONS’s official position on the role, in ONS’s Nurse Navigation Learning Library.