Open Access Research article

Unique perception of clinical trials by Korean cancer patients

Su Jin Lee1, Lee Chun Park2, Jeeyun Lee1*, Seonwoo Kim3, Moon Ki Choi1, Jung Yong Hong1, Sylvia Park1, Chi Hoon Maeng1, Wonjin Chang1, Young Saing Kim1, Se Hoon Park1, Joon Oh Park1, Ho Yeong Lim1, Won Ki Kang1 and Young Suk Park1*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 50 Irwon-dong Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 135-710, Korea

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Kosin University Gospel Hospital, Busan, Korea

3 Biostatistics team, Samsung Biomedical Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

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Citation and License

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:594  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-594

Published: 12 December 2012



In the past few years, the number of clinical trials has increased rapidly in East Asia, especially for gastric and hepatobiliary cancer that are prevalent in Asian populations. However, the actual degree of understanding or perceptions of clinical trials by cancer patients in East Asian countries have seldom been studied.


Between July 1st and November 30th of 2011, we conducted a prospective study to survey cancer patients regarding their awareness of, and willingness to participate in, a clinical trial. Patients with gastrointestinal/hepatobiliary cancer who visited the Hematology-Oncology outpatient clinic at Samsung Medical Center (SMC) were enrolled. A total of 21 questions were asked including four questions which used the Visual analogue scale (VAS) score.


In this survey study, 1,000 patients were asked to participate and 675 patients consented to participate (67.5%). The awareness of clinical trials was substantially higher in patients who had a higher level of education (p<0.001), were married (p=0.004), and had a higher economic status (p=0.001). However, the willingness to participate in a clinical trial was not affected by the level of education or economic status of patients. The most influential factors for patient willingness to participate were a physician recommendation (n=181, 26.8%), limited treatment options (n=178, 26.4%), and expectations of effectiveness of new anti-cancer drugs (n=142, 21.0%). Patients with previous experience in clinical trials had a greater willingness to participate in clinical trials compared to patients without previous experience (p<0.001).


This large patient cohort survey study showed that Korean cancer patients are more aware of clinical trials, but awareness did not translate into willingness to participate.

Cancer clinical trial; Survey; Awareness and willingness to participate