Challenges with research contract negotiations in community-based cancer research


PURPOSE: Community-based research programs face many barriers to participation in clinical trials. Although the majority of people with cancer are diagnosed and treated in the community setting, only roughly 3% are enrolled onto clinical trials. Research contract and budget negotiations have been consistently identified as time consuming and a barrier to participation in clinical trials. ASCO's Community Research Forum conducted a survey about specific challenges of research contract and budget negotiation processes in community-based research settings. The goal was to ultimately identify potential solutions to these barriers.

METHODS: A survey was distributed to 780 community-based physician investigators and research staff. The survey included questions to provide insight into contract and budget negotiation processes and perceptions about related barriers.

RESULTS: A total of 77% of the 150 respondents acknowledged barriers in the process. Respondents most frequently identified budget-related issues (n = 133), inefficiencies in the process (n = 80), or legal review and negotiation issues (n = 70). Of the respondents, 44.1% indicated that contract research organizations made the contract negotiations process harder for their research program, and only 5% believed contract research organizations made the process easier. The contract negotiations process is perceived to be impeded by sponsors through underestimation of costs, lack of flexibility with the contract language, and excessive delays.

CONCLUSION: Improving clinical trial activation processes and reducing inefficiencies would be beneficial to all interested stakeholders, including patients who may ultimately stand to benefit from participation in clinical trials. The following key recommendations were made: standardization of contracts and negotiation processes to promulgate transparency and efficiencies, improve sponsor processes to minimize burden on sites, create and promote use of contract templates and best practices, and provide education and consultation.

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