C-CRES (COVID-19 and Cancer Research Engagement Study): UK pilot survey of patient concerns about participating in cancer research during COVID-19


Session type:

Louis Fox1, Harriet Wylie, Fee Cahill, Anna Haire, Saran Green, Joyce Kibaru, Catherine Hartley, Richard Sullivan, Mieke Van Hemelrijck
1Translational Oncology and Urology Research, King's College London



Emerging reports suggest continuation of clinical trials is feasible/safe even in hospitals admitting COVID-19 patients, given appropriate safety procedures. However, to our knowledge no studies have yet investigated factors that may be affecting cancer patients’ volitional participation in research during the COVID-19 pandemic. C-CRES was developed to identify such factors, to inform future work that aims to examine how to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on recruitment to cancer research studies.


Between 5-19 June 2020, we distributed a fully anonymised survey using the Twitter account of our London-based translational cancer research group and its affiliated Patient and Public Involvement panel. We tagged UK cancer patient organisations/charities. Patients aged ≥18 with a cancer diagnosis were eligible to participate and asked about their diagnosis/treatment, cancer research experience, and concerns about research participation given the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns about various topics were compared with responses on other survey questions using Kruskal-Wallis tests.


Ninety-three individuals, of various cancer types, provided survey responses. Interestingly, 57% reported having never participated in cancer research before. Most participants (70.9%) were concerned about having to travel to participate; this concern was associated with a lower self-reported likelihood of participating (p=0.002). Concerns around cancer type and cancer treatment were also associated with likelihood of participating (p=0.003 and p=0.035 respectively). Concerns about cancer type were more prevalent amongst individuals who had never taken part in cancer research before (p<0.005) and were associated with anxiety (p<0.001). Concerns about age were significantly associated with lower likelihood of participation (p=0.016) and appeared somewhat related to anxiety (p=0.073).


Cancer patients have concerns about participating in research during the COVID-19 pandemic that range from mild to serious. In addition to steps already being taken to reduce hospital visits for research, efforts should be made where appropriate to reassure potential cancer research participants about safety of participating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact statement

The findings from this pilot survey highlight areas of focus, both for clinical research teams and for further research examining patient-centred factors related to COVID-19 that may affect recruitment to (or patient withdrawal from) clinical cancer research studies.