UH Cancer Center researchers identify positive impact of Clinical Research Professionals for cancer treatment

May 2022

A new study led by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researchers found that Hawaiʻi patients with cancer who were enrolled in therapeutic clinical trials had significantly more positive care coordination experiences. This is attributed to the care clinical research professionals (CRPs) at the UH Cancer Center provide for patients during their cancer clinical trials. The study was published in the JCO Oncology Practice.

Clinical Trials Staff
Clinical Trials Staff

The study was led by UH Cancer Center junior researcher, Izumi Okado, PhD, with co-investigators including UH Cancer Center researchers Ian Pagano, PhD, Kevin Cassel, DrPH, Jefferey Berenberg, MD, Jessica Rhee, MD, MS, Anamalia Suʻesuʻe, and former UH Cancer Center Director, Randall Holcombe, MD, MBA.

Care coordination refers to how a patient’s medical care activities are organized. For patients with cancer, care coordination is often complex as cancer treatment typically involves numerous health providers, multiple specialists, and different care settings. Although care coordination is a vital component of cancer care, many patients still receive care that is poorly coordinated.

Participants in this study were cancer patients receiving treatment and enrolled in clinical trials offered through the UH Cancer Center’s Hawaiʻi Minority/Underserved National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). The UH Cancer Center provides access to about 150 cancer clinical trials for patients in Hawaiʻi. Clinical trials offer patients access to emerging new treatments and provide the highest level of care. Clinical Research Professionals are a vital part of UH Cancer Center’s clinical trial care team.

Okado and collaborators found that the care coordination support provided by Clinical Research Professionals (CRPs) is an added benefit for patients participating in clinical trials. Patients who participated in this study often referred to CRPs as their “care coordinators”, illustrating the important role that CRPs play in their care. As care coordination for cancer treatment is often complex, having CRPs’ help patients with navigating their cancer journey makes the process easier; as a patient described, “you really felt like someone was there fighting with you and for you every step of the way.”

“CRPs play a key role in coordinating care for clinical trial participants,” said Okado. “Their role in coordinating care is often unrecognized; yet, for patients on clinical trials, the presence of and support provided by CRPs have a positive impact on their clinical trial and cancer care experience.”

“This study conducted by Dr. Okado and colleagues underscore the important role Clinical Research Professionals play in the lives of clinical trial participants,” said UH Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office Medical Director, Jonathan Cho, MD. “The cancer research community firmly believes clinical trial participation offers many potential benefits and this study is an affirmation of this.”

Findings from this study highlight the positive impact of the UH Cancer Center’s CRPs for patients receiving cancer treatment enrolled on cancer clinical trials. The publication will provide increased awareness of improved care coordination and support provided by CRPs as a value-added benefit of participating in cancer clinical trials.