Current scenario and future perspectives of clinical research in Brazil: a national survey

23 Nov 2023
Heloisa Resende, Taiane F Rebelatto, Gustavo Werutsky, Gustavo Gössling, Vinícius Q Aguiar, Guilherme M C Lopes, Biazi R de Assis, Lilian Arruda, Carlos H Barrios

Background: Epidemiological and clinical cancer research is essential to understanding tumour behaviour and developing new therapies in oncology. However, several countries including Brazil as well as many other regions of the world have limited participation in cancer research. Despite 625,000 new cancer cases recorded in Brazil in 2022, only 2.2% of ongoing cancer clinical trials are available in the country. We conducted an online survey to describe physician engagement with research and to identify the main barriers precluding participation in and conduct of clinical cancer research in the country.

Methods: An anonymous online survey of 23 objective questions was sent by e-mail to Brazilian members of the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group and the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology. The first 13 questions addressed demographic information, medical training and previous research participation. In the second part, the main barriers to engagement and participation in clinical trials in Brazil were addressed. Continuous variables were measured by median and range. Analyses were performed using SAS statistical software (version 9.4; SAS Institute, Inc. Cary, NC).

Results: 109 physicians answered the survey. Most participants were oncologists (N = 98, 89.9%), living in capital cities (N = 84, 77.1%), were from the Southeast region of Brazil (N = 63, 57.8%) and worked at institutions  providing exclusively private healthcare (N = 59, 54.1%). Of the 109 respondents, 83 (76.1%) reported working in research centres (as investigators or sub-investigators). Surprisingly, 31.2% of physicians recognised they invite less than 1% of their patients to participate in clinical trials, even though 98 (89.9%) considered the participation of patients in clinical trials extremely relevant. The main barriers compromising the conduct of research in the country were the low number of available trials (48.2%) and the lack of qualified human resources to staff research sites (22.9%). Other reported barriers were the lengthy regulatory approval process (42.2%), followed by a lack of awareness of clinical research by patients resulting in low recruitment rates (24.1%). Of the 26 (23.8%) respondents not working with research, 25 (96.1%) reported interest in being involved, 31.8% have tried participating in research and 62.4% reported limited knowledge of trial procedures.

Conclusion: These results suggest a clear need to further engage physicians in clinical research activities in Brazil. Patient education strategies should improve the low recruitment rates and secondarily increase the number of proposed trials in the country.

Related Articles

Nancy S Bolous, Peter Mercredi, Miguel Bonilla, Paola Friedrich, Nickhill Bhakta, Monika L Metzger, Pascale Y Gassant
Ranin Soliman, Nancy Bolous, Carl Heneghan, Jason Oke, Anne-Marie Boylan, Wael Eweida, Sherif Abouelnaga, Alaa Elhaddad
Julia Challinor, Alan Davidson, Guillermo Chantada, Rejin Kebudi, Kathy Pritchard-Jones