Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare



First Page


Last Page



Dove Press


Exercise Medicine Research Institute




NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer Survivorship


Viljoen, B., Chambers, S. K., Dunn, J., Ralph, N., & March, S. (2020). Deciding to enrol in a cancer trial: A systematic review of qualitative studies. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 13, 1257-1281.


© 2020 Viljoen et al. Background: Clinical trials are essential for the advancement of cancer treatments; how-ever, participation by patients is suboptimal. Currently, there is a lack of synthesized qualitative review evidence on the patient experience of trial entry from which to further develop decision support. The aim of this review is to synthesise literature reporting experiences of participants when deciding to enrol in a cancer clinical trial in order to inform practice. Methods: A systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies were conducted to describe the experiences of adult cancer patients who decided to enrol in a clinical trial of an anti-cancer treatment. Results: Forty studies met eligibility criteria for inclusion. Three themes were identified representing the overarching domains of experience when deciding to enrol in a cancer trial: 1) need for trial information; (2) trepidation towards participation; and (3) justifying the decision. The process of deciding to enrol in a clinical trial is one marked by uncertainty, emotional distress and driven by the search for a cure. Conclusion: Findings from this review show that decision support modelled by shared decision-making and the quality of a shared decision needs to be accompanied by tailored or personalised psychosocial and supportive care. Although the decision process bears simila-rities to theoretical processes outlined in decision-making frameworks, there are a lack of supportive interventions for cancer patients that are adapted to the clinical trial context. Theory-based interventions are urgently required to support the specific needs of patients deciding whether to participate in cancer trials.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License