A Psychosocial Approach to Understanding Causality Assessment in Early Phase Oncology Clinical Trials: A Phenomenological Study
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Research Question: What are the psychosocial factors that affect causality assessment in early phase oncology clinical trials? Methods: Thirty-two qualitative interviews were explicated with the aid of “Naturalistic Decision Making”. Data explication consisted of phenomenological reduction, delineating and clustering meaning units, forming themes, and creating a composite summary. Participants were members of the National Cancer Institute of Canada’s Clinical Trial Group Investigative New Drug committee. Results: The process of assigning causality is extremely subjective and full of uncertainty. Physicians had no formal training, nor a tool to assist them with this process. Physicians were apprehensive about their decisions and felt pressure from their patients, as well as the pharmaceutical companies sponsoring the trial. Conclusions: There are many problem areas when attributing causality, all of which have serious consequences, but clinicians used a variety of methods to cope with these problem areas.