Wide Disparity in Internet Information about Clinical Trials

 Behind the Cancer Headlines®

April 30, 2003 


The number of patients and physicians seeking health-related information on the Internet continues to grow, but the completeness of tools such as online databases is always in question.  

One of the many areas of online promise lies in providing information to the public about clinical trial availability and eligibility criteria. This is particularly important for patients with cancer, a group that would benefit from increased, reliable access to trial information. 

Using a combination of MEDLINE and Web searching, James Till, Robert Phillips and Alejandro Jadad attempted to detail the completeness of online databases of breast cancer clinical trials available in Canada. Writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, they noted that the most complete database was the Physician Data Query (PDQ) Clinical Trials Database of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, which identified 86% of trials. Canada's most comprehensive online site identified 29%.  

"Our results suggest there is no comprehensive online database of cancer clinical trials in Canada," conclude the authors, who add that future studies should examine incentives to motivate the online listing of trials.  



Canadian Medical Association (http://www.cma.ca)