Informed consent for pediatric phase 1 cancer trials: Physicians' perspectives




This study was conducted to gather pediatric oncologists' opinions about and suggestions for improvement of informed consent (IC) in pediatric phase 1 cancer trials.


A questionnaire designed to elicit perspectives was distributed to 146 physicians at 6 participating institutions. A total of 103 completed surveys were returned for a 71% response rate.


Pediatric oncologists believe providing information so families can decide about phase 1 study entry is the most important goal of the IC process (ICP). The majority of physicians (64%) report that they describe the phase 1 study without any attempt to influence parents' decisions. Several answers provided by physicians were associated with their gender and prior IC training. Male physicians were significantly more likely to endorse the no-attempt-to-influence approach, whereas female physicians were more likely to suggest to parents that other children will benefit from what is learned in phase 1 studies. Responses to an open-ended question provided 63 suggestions for improvement of the ICP, including document and training changes and tools to enhance physician-family communication.


Pediatric oncologists tended to present phase 1 trials as an option rather than a strong recommendation and were reluctant to influence decisions of families about these studies. They believe most but not all parents understand key concepts involved in consent to this type of research, and had ample suggestions for how to improve the ICP. Future research and education efforts around this ethically challenging topic were warranted. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.