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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The authors examine the intersection between theory and research on prosocial behavior and cancer research involving human participants in clinical trials. They begin with a discussion of the problem that is the focus of the chapter—very low rates of patient participation in clinical trials. The authors then propose that both patients’ decision to participate in such trials and oncologists’ decisions to ask patients to participate represent prosocial actions. They use Penner et al.’s (2005) multilevel framework for the analysis of prosocial actions to examine patient decisions about participation in cancer clinical trials. Specifically, at the micro level of analysis, they examine the role of personality traits in patient decisions about participation. At the meso level, they examine how interpersonal variables (e.g., perceptions of and feelings about the oncologist) affect these decisions. Finally, they consider whether a macro level of analysis, which involves helping in group rather than an interpersonal context, might provide a useful framework for understanding patient motives for participation in a clinical trial. A similar framework is used to examine physician decisions about asking a patient to participate in clinical trial. A discussion of potential future directions for research concludes, including both basic research on motives for participation and applied research intended to increase the rates of patient participation in clinical trials.

Keywords: cancer clinical trials, prosocial behavior, multi-level model of prosocial actions

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