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New Educational Film Pay It Forward: Volunteering for a Clinical Trial Encourages Clinical Trial Enrollment

Published May 3, 2017

Film Release Coincides with 2017 Clinical Trials Awareness Week

Washington, D.C., May 3, 2017 – In honor of Clinical Trials Awareness Week, the Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) has released a new animated “pocket film,” Pay it Forward: Volunteering for a Clinical Trial, to encourage clinical trial volunteerism. The five-minute film explains what clinical trials are, the science and methodology behind them, the benefits of participation, and how to learn about trial availability.

A vital part of medical research, clinical trials are research studies involving people that evaluate the effects of an experimental test or treatment. Clinical trials cannot happen without the participation of volunteers. However, clinical trials overall are significantly under-enrolled—with 37 percent of trial sites failing to meet their enrollment goals, and 11 percent never even enrolling a single patient.

Under-enrollment is an especially significant problem among older adults, who are also those most disproportionately impacted by chronic disease. For example, even though more than half of all cancers are diagnosed in people ages 65 and older, only 25 percent of cancer-focused clinical trial enrollees are from that age group.

This vast under-enrollment of older adults is due to many factors, including a high likelihood of comorbidity exclusion, perceived financial issues, transportation barriers, and a fear of the science and the system. Also, a lack of awareness about what clinical trials are and how they work plays a large role, an issue this film aims to tackle head on. In a 2003 survey of cancer clinical trials, 40 percent of surveyed adults said that they did not understand clinical trials. However, after they had a better understanding of them, 32 percent said that they’d consider participating in one.

“We take for granted that many of the successful treatments we have today for heart disease, cancer, infections, and other conditions did not exist 20 to 30 years ago. Those breakthroughs came about because people in previous generations volunteered in clinical trials,” says Susan Peschin, MHS, Alliance for Aging Research president and CEO. “It should be incumbent upon all health care providers to dialogue with patients about available clinical trials. But until that happens, we encourage them—along with research centers, disease advocacy organizations, patients, and family caregivers—to use our film as a bridge to start the conversation.”

Available online and for free download, Pay it Forward: Volunteering for a Clinical Trial features easy-to-understand language that educates patients and caregivers on the importance of clinical trials. It offers care providers a time-saving tool for tackling basic questions and misconceptions patients have about clinical trials. It is also ideal for displaying on waiting room televisions and monitors, smart phones and tablets in the clinical encounter, and devices and computers at home.

This film was made possible through a partnership between the Alliance for Aging Research and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA.

This “pocket film” is the latest in the Alliance’s series. To see the full range of films, please go here.

About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit for more information.


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