Patient engagement surveys have become standard practice in many of today’s clinical trial settings. Patient surveys provide important information that can validate engagement measures, test technology effectiveness, and inform future decisions when planning similar trials. They can also be a way to grab some insight into the patient perspective. Implementation of surveys can be a window into patient satisfaction levels, barriers, motivators, and likelihood of continued participation.

Let’s look at two aspects of clinical trial patient surveys:


Why are surveys needed?

Surveys help to put the focus of a study on the patients – where it should be. Patient-centric trials are more likely to be successful with enrollment, retention, and results. Still, there is much to learn about how best to conduct surveys to help ensure that they produce meaningful change. Patients are too often only given surveys at the end of a trial when participation and communication can tend to drop off. This drastically limits the opportunity to make any real-time adjustments and hurts the level of support that patients deserve.

Understandably, the fear exists of collecting negative feedback about your trial but it is a risk that ultimately needs to be taken. Embrace the feedback (all of it!) as your chance to accurately evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your study. When it comes down to it, surveys are greatly beneficial to all involved: sponsors, patients, physicians, study sites, and the greater medical community.


What questions to ask on surveys?

One approach is to view patient surveys as an opportunity to gauge the emotional impact that a trial is having on its participants. Are they satisfied with the process thus far? Are they interested or feel engaged? Do they feel that they are being properly supported by the physicians and administrative teams? This should give a view into how well the trial (and its sites) are operating, how likely it is that patients will stay on, and whether or not the overall timeline can stay on track. On the more concrete side of things, ask patients for feedback regarding how they participate. Are appointments easy for them to get to? Are appointments easy for them to remember? Is there a long wait after they arrive for their appointment? Create a mix of questions to get the exact information that you need.

Remember to space out surveys wisely and do not keep them lumped at the very end. Essentially, presenting surveys at regular intervals throughout a clinical trial allows decision makers to be proactive rather than reactive. Implementing patient survey feedback throughout your clinical trial should be relatively straightforward. This information can guide the adjustments that you make both in real time and when planning future studies.


Some essential tactics to bear in mind include: keeping surveys short and not too frequent, creating questions that are relevant to the phase of the study, and writing in plain language. Surveys should be simple and straight to the point. Patient survey provide important information that can validate engagement measures, test technology effectiveness, and inform future decisions when planning similar trials.

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