“There is no carrot, but there is also no stick.” Cancer IO’s new report tackles the issues and opportunities in conducting clinical trials in Finland.
The report, published on 16 September 2021, describes the hospital preparedness for cancer clinical trials in Finland. We analyzed the status of research infrastructures and environment, strategy and communication, and incentives for conducting clinical trials. This report is based on interviews conducted in the Finnish cancer centers (regional FICAN units) and university hospitals, since most of the clinical trial activity occurs there. Interviews were also conducted with the seven largest central hospitals, of which two reported to have regular clinical trial activity.
The survey indicates that the hospitals are willing and well-equipped to conduct trials, but the current budgets and resource allocations are a major limitation that prevents growth in the number of trials in Finland. Budget allocation and planning take place outside the daily operations of the hospitals, which is why the issue should be discussed with a wider audience than just the medical professionals.
As trials and research include a lot of administrative and budgeting efforts, interaction with partners, and communication with regulatory authorities on top of the actual research, relevant support services in the hospitals are seen as vital for enabling clinical trials. Such support services are generally available in university hospitals, but the extent of these services is variable and not always sufficient.
A common challenge pointed out was that the resources are scarce and motivating clinicians to engage in clinical research is challenging for there is not enough time allocated for research. Taking on research roles often means that the research work is added on top of the normal patient work of the clinician and thus conducted in the evenings, weekends, or during vacations. Research funding can be used to finance research leave, but leave is often hard to obtain due to a shortage of clinicians.
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS BY CANCER IO CONSORTIUM TO INCREASE CLINICAL TRIAL ACTIVITY IN FINLAND
The university hospital boards, and health policy decision makers should view conducting clinical trials as an asset in modern patient care, component of health innovation ecosystem and an essential core function of all university hospitals.
Create strategies and communication channels for clinical trial activity at state and hospital district level.
Incentivize clinicians to participate in clinical trial research during regular working hours via research time allocation and designated research positions.
Ensure sufficient support services, resources and facilities (e.g. Clinical Trial Units).
Cooperate nationally across Finnish hospitals to attract sponsors with increased patient numbers.
Read more and download the report!