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August 27, 1982

Attitudes Toward Clinical Trials Among Patients and the Public

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Human Resources (Dr Cassileth and Mr Miller) and the Biostatistics Program (Dr Lusk and Ms Hurwitz), the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1982;248(8):968-970. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330080050028

Attitudes toward clinical research, the focus of recent and damaging media attention, were assessed through questionnaires completed anonymously by 104 patients with cancer, 84 cardiology patients, and 107 members of the general public. Responses differed neither by subgroup nor by demographic variables. Data are therefore reported on the total population of 295 subjects. Most respondents (71%) believed that patients should serve as research subjects. In support of this belief, the majority cited potential benefit to others and the opportunity to increase scientific knowledge, but a different bias emerged when they were asked about their own potential participation. This study shows that diverse respondents view clinical trials as important, ethical, and as a means of attaining superior clinical care. Major importance is attributed to making contributions to medical knowledge and to helping future patients. Contrasts are noted in patients' views of their own treatments v treatments of "hypothetical others."

(JAMA 1982;248:968-970)