Purpose: American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIs/ANs) have some of the highest cancer-related mortality rates of all US racial and ethnic groups, but they are underrepresented in clinical trials. We sought to identify factors that influence willingness to participate in cancer clinical trials among AI/AN tribal college students, and to compare attitudes toward clinical trial participation among these students with attitudes among older AI/AN adults.
Methods: Questionnaire data from 489 AI/AN tribal college students were collected and analyzed along with previously collected data from 112 older AI/AN adults. We examined 10 factors that influenced participation in the tribal college sample, and using chi-square analysis and these 10 factors, we compared attitudes toward research participation among 3 groups defined by age: students younger than 40, students 40 and older, and nonstudent adults 40 and older.
Findings: About 80% of students were willing to participate if the study would lead to new treatments or help others with cancer in their community, the study doctor had experience treating AI/AN patients, and they received payment. Older nonstudent adults were less likely to participate on the basis of the doctor's expertise than were students (73% vs 84%, P = .007), or if the study was conducted 50 miles away (24% vs 41%, P= .001).
Conclusions: Finding high rates of willingness to participate is an important first step in increasing participation of AIs/ANs in clinical trials. More information is needed on whether these attitudes influence actual behavior when opportunities to participate become available.