USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center launches study aimed at increasing diversity among clinical trial participants

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center has launched a study to determine how financial assistance for costs associated with clinical trial participation might increase enrollment, particularly among low-income patients and racial and ethnic minorities. The study, known as Improving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials (IMPACT), assesses social and cultural barriers to clinical trial participation.

Through IMPACT, all patients who qualify for a clinical trial at USC Norris are offered the opportunity to apply for a reimbursement program for out-of-pocket expenses associated with clinical trial participation, including travel and lodging. This includes patients seen at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, the USC Norris Treatment Center in Newport Beach, California and anyone referred to USC Norris by affiliates and partners. Reimbursement is based on a sliding scale up to seven times the U.S. federal poverty guidelines, and information will be available in multiple languages to encourage diversity in clinical trial participation.

Fewer than 5% of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials nationally, with ethnic and racial minorities enrolling at even lower rates. Economic concerns play a role in the lower participation, as low-income patients may lack adequate financial resources to pay for travel, childcare and time away from work.

The discovery of potentially life-prolonging therapies may be delayed, and patients may miss out on promising treatments as a result of chronic under enrollment. Low diversity in clinical trials also creates a lack of data on the nuances of personalized cancer treatment within underrepresented groups.

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