BACKGROUND/AIMS: Pediatric rare disease presents a challenging situation of high unmet need and a limited pool of potential clinical trial participants. Understanding perspectives of parents of children who have not participated in trials may facilitate approaches to optimize participation rates. The objective of this study was to explore factors associated with parental interest in enrolling children with pediatric neuromuscular disorders in clinical trials.
METHODS: Parents of individuals with Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy were recruited through advocacy organizations, a registry, and clinics. These parents ( N = 203) completed a questionnaire including assessments of barriers and facilitators to clinical trial participation, parents' interest in trial participation, and their perceptions of others' views about participation in a clinical trial.
RESULTS: Trial interest in participating parents was high (64% combined group). The most highly endorsed barrier to participation was the possibility of receiving placebo, followed by not having enough information on risks and trial procedures. Compared to parents of children with Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy, parents of children with spinal muscular atrophy endorsed significantly more information and knowledge barriers. The greatest facilitators of participation were (1) confidence in improving disease understanding and (2) guarantee to receive the treatment after a successful trial. A logistic regression model, χ2(4, n = 188) = 80.64, p < .001, indicated that higher perceived barriers and more frequent trial communication by the provider were associated with lower interest, while positive trial perceptions by the child's providers and concordance in trial perceptions among those close to the decision-maker were associated with higher interest.
CONCLUSION: We found high parental interest in pediatric neuromuscular trials that was tempered by concerns about the potential for randomization to a placebo arm. Participants perceived that their trial participation would be facilitated by additional education and guidance from their clinicians. Yet, intentions were negatively associated with frequency of provider communication, perhaps reflecting waning parental interest with a greater understanding of limitations in trial access, increased sophistication in their understanding of trial design, and appreciation of potential burden. To support parents' informed decisions, it is important to educate them to evaluate the quality of research, as well as providing lay information explaining the use of placebo, trial processes, and potential barriers to long-term drug access. Our findings should inform the development of targeted educational content, clinician training, and decision support tools.