New videos seek to engage more people from CALD backgrounds in clinical trials

Critically ill and high-risk patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are missing out on potentially life-saving treatments by not accessing clinical trials, researchers argue.

Clinicians, researchers and language experts from the University of Melbourne have been working on ways to improve access to and participation in medical research and clinical trials.

With up to 50 per cent of patients in metropolitan hospitals in Australia coming from a non-English speaking background, many patients who fit the criteria for acceptance into clinical trials are missing out on the benefits of participating in clinical trials. This missed opportunity highlights the need to overcome barriers to health care engagement, literacy and access.

Professor Robyn Woodward-Kron from the University’s Melbourne Medical School said it is vital to increase opportunities for patients by providing accessible, culturally appropriate information with patient-centred consent processes.

“We found the most effective way to communicate with this audience was through a two-minute video. As part of our research, we tested the videos on non-English speakers for usability and acceptability,” Professor Woodward-Kron said.

Professor John Hajek, who researches multilingualism and cross-cultural communication, described how interviews and focus groups were held with four key stakeholder groups: older people in the Italian community, family members, clinical researchers and hospital human ethics co-ordinators. It was agreed that incorporating multimedia tools in this approach can help eliminate barriers and humanise the information.

The program of research was initiated by Dr Tuong Phan, anaesthetist at St Vincent’s, Melbourne who appears in the videos.

He believes this will open up opportunities for more people to access new and improved treatments. Researchers say CALD groups in Australia suffer from poorer health than the general population, yet their use of health services tends to be lower. One key area where CALD groups currently miss out on health care opportunities is in clinical trials.

“Increased engagement with clinical trials has a great impact on future clinical practices and we need to continue the sharing of knowledge with the wider community,” Dr Phan said.

Professor David Story, Chair of Anaesthesia added: “Patients can benefit from participating in a trial, even if they are receiving a placebo or usual care, because they receive closer monitoring, and are taking a more active role in their health care.”

The videos are available in the following community languages- Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese and English. Greek will be added soon.

The research team have provided the resource as open access and are seeking collaboration from other clinical research teams and CALD community groups. The video project was funded by the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health.