The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) recently announced the release of two new resources to help research sites increase racial and ethnic equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in cancer clinical trials.
The two organizations recently published a special article in The Journal of Clinical Oncology that detailed six overarching recommendations for improving EDI in cancer clinical trials. The article outlines specific actions for individual stakeholders in the cancer clinical trial ecosystem to increase diversity in research participation. The new resources directly address some of the recommendations in the Research Statement.
The Just ASK™ Increasing Diversity in Cancer Clinical Research: An ACCC-ASCO Training Program (Just ASK™ Training Program), and the ASCO-ACCC Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Research Site Self-Assessment (Site Self-Assessment) are available free-of-charge online. This release follows a successful pilot project with 75 research sites across the United States, which assessed the feasibility and utility of the resources.
“Increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion in cancer clinical trials is foundational to conducting medical research that can be generalized to and benefit all patients with cancer,” said Association for Clinical Oncology Board Chair Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, who is co-chair of the ASCO-ACCC Steering Group. “From the outset of this initiative, our goal was to develop practical resources that research sites could readily use to foster meaningful change. Our pilot project demonstrated the value of the training and site self-assessment, and we are delighted that we can now offer them to the broader cancer research community.”
The Just ASK™ will also help to address implicit bias. Studies have found that implicit bias reduces the likelihood of clinicians offering clinical trials to racially and ethnically marginalized patients compared to patients who are White. However, when trial participation is offered, more than half (55%) of patients agreed to enroll regardless of race and ethnicity.
The Just ASK™ Training Program, adapted from a course developed at Duke University, is an online implicit bias training program intended for all members of the research team. It consists of five interactive modules—which can be completed independently in about in 60-90 minutes—that present the broader context of structural and systemic racism, the role of implicit bias in clinical trial selection, vignettes with real-world examples of implicit bias, and guidance for mitigating disparities in cancer research settings. A companion Facilitation Guide is also available to help sites continue the conversation with the larger research team after taking the training.
The Site Self-Assessment helps clinical trial sites and research teams identify opportunities to improve EDI in clinical trials while doing an internal review of existing policies, programs, and procedures that offer evidence-based strategies to improve the diversity of trial participants. The Site Self-Assessment is a quality improvement tool framed around the clinical trial enrollment continuum, and includes domains related to patient access to the site, screening patients for clinical trials, offering patients clinical trials, and participation and retention in trials.