State-of-the-Science of Patient Navigation as a Strategy for Enhancing Minority Clinical Trial Accrual

Background: Patient navigation programs are emerging, that aim to address disparities in clinical trial participation among medically underserved populations, including racial/ethnic minorities. However, there is a lack of consensus on the role of patient navigators within the clinical trial process, as well as outcome measures to evaluate program effectiveness.

Methods: A review of the literature was conducted of PubMed, Medline, CINHAL, and other sources to identify qualitative and quantitative studies on patient navigation in clinical trials. The search yielded 212 studies, of which only 12 were eligible for this review.

Results: The eligible studies reported on development of programs for patient navigation in cancer clinical trials, including training and implementation among African American, American Indian and Native Hawaiians. Low clinical trial refusal, 4% to 6%, was reported among patients enrolled in patient navigation program. However, few studies reported on the efficacy of patient navigation on increasing clinical treatment trial enrollment.

Conclusion: Outcome measures are proposed to assist in developing and evaluating the efficacy and/or effectiveness of patient navigation programs that aim to increase participation in cancer clinical trials. Future research is needed to evaluate the efficacy of patient navigators in addressing barriers to clinical trial participation and increasing enrollment among medically underserved cancer patients.