CR Hanna, DM Lynskey, J Wadsley, SE Appleyard, S Anwar, E Miles, J Gower, E Hall, CE Coles, GG Hanna
Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol)
AIMS: Radiotherapy clinical trials are integral to the development of new treatments to improve the outcomes of patients with cancer. A collaborative study by the National Cancer Research Institute Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group and the National Institute for Health Research was carried out to understand better if and why inefficiencies occur in the set-up of radiotherapy trials in the UK. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two online surveys collected information on the time taken for UK radiotherapy trials to reach key milestones during set-up and the research support currently being provided to radiotherapy centres to enable efficient clinical trial set-up. Semi-structured interviews with project managers and chief investigators identified better ways of working to improve trial set-up in the future. RESULTS: The timelines for the set-up of 39 UK radiotherapy trials were captured in an online survey showing that the median time from grant approval to trial opening was 600 days (range 169-1172). There were 38 responses from radiotherapy centres to a survey asking about the current support provided for radiotherapy research. Most of these centres have more than one type of staff member dedicated to supporting radiotherapy research. The most frequent barrier to radiotherapy trial set-up identified was lack of physicists' time and lack of time for clinical oncologists to carry out research activities. Four main themes around trial set-up were identified from semi-structured interviews: the importance of communication and building relationships, the previous experience of the chief investigator and clinical trials units, a lack of resources and having the time and personnel required to produce trial documentation and to process trial approval requests. CONCLUSIONS: This unique, collaborative project has provided up to date information about the current landscape of trial set-up and research support in the UK and identified several avenues on which to focus future efforts in order to support the excellent radiotherapy trial work carried out across the UK.