OBJECTIVE : Low recruitment of adolescents and young adults in cancer clinical trials is widely reported and may be linked to limited improvements in survival. Research to date does not adequately explain all underlying reasons for poor trial accrual. This paper reports health professional perceptions of communicating with adolescents and young adults with bone sarcoma about clinical trial participation. METHODS : This study used narrative inquiry. Findings are reported from thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with 18 multidisciplinary health professionals working in a supra-regional bone and soft tissue sarcoma centre. RESULTS : Participants described professional expertise, the development of specialist knowledge and skills and strategies used to develop trusting relationships with adolescents and young adults with bone sarcoma. These factors were perceived to facilitate communication about clinical trial participation. Emergent themes were having credibility through expertise of the team, developing specialist communication skills through reflection on practice, having inclusive approaches to education and training about clinical trials, individual communication styles used to form trusting relationships, using a patient-centred approach to connect with adolescents and young adults, creating time needed to form trusting relationships and effective team working. CONCLUSIONS : We aligned findings of this study with characteristics of patient-physician trust and provide a basis for transferable recommendations. Our findings can be used to inform the development of age-specific, specialist communication skills and highlight health professional education needs about clinical trials. Additional research is needed to explore which elements of team working optimise improved clinical trial participation, in what contexts and why.