Participation in pediatric oncology research protocols: Racial/ethnic, language and age-based disparities

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Background.Survival rates in pediatric oncology have improved dramatically, in part due to high patient participation in clinical trials. Although racial/ethnic inequalities in clinical trial participation have been reported in adults, pediatric data and studies comparing participation rates by socio-demographic characteristics are scarce. The goal of this study was to assess differences in research protocol participation for childhood cancer by age, sex, race/ethnicity, parental language, cancer type, and insurance status.Procedure.Data on enrollment in any protocol, biospecimen, or therapeutic protocols were collected and analyzed for newly diagnosed pediatric patients with cancer from 2008–2012 at Rady Children's Hospital.Results.Among the 353 patients included in the analysis, 304 (86.1%) were enrolled in any protocol. Enrollment in biospecimen and therapeutic protocols was 84.2% (261/310) and 81.1% (206/254), respectively. Logistic regression analyzes revealed significant enrollment underrepresentation in any protocol for Hispanics compared to Non-Hispanic whites (81% vs. 91%; Odds Ratio [OR], 0.43; 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 0.21–0.90; P = 0.021) and among children of Spanish-speaking vs. English-speaking parents (78% vs. 89%; OR, 0.45; 95%CI, 0.23–0.87; P = 0.016). Compared to patients aged 0–4 years, significant underrepresentation was also found among patients 15–21 years old (92% vs.72%; OR, 0.21; 95% CI, 0.09–0.48; P < 0.001). Similar trends were observed when analyzing enrollment in biospecimen and therapeutic protocols separately.Conclusions.There was significant underrepresentation in protocol participation for Hispanics, children of Spanish-speaking parents, and patients ages 15–21. Research is needed to understand barriers to research participation among these groups underrepresented in pediatric oncology clinical trials. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2015;62:1337–1344. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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