Patient recruitment has proven to be a persistent struggle for many clinical trials. Failure to meet recruitment goals results in schedules being delayed and more money being needed. Not only do the budget and timeline take a hit but so does the community of patients out there who could benefit from the research being done. Let’s look at different proactive approaches you can take to help avoid the challenges the trials often run into to:
Establish Well-Designed Protocol
Even with stunning marketing materials and a rock-solid promotional strategy, you will be hard-pressed to achieve the levels of success that you want if your clinical trial protocol is not up-to-shape. If your study requires lengthy visits or frequent trips to the study site, or if participants must meet difficult and confusing inclusion/exclusion criteria, it might be challenging to recruit for that study. Potential patients could be scared off by the criteria or simply not have the time to make the full commitment. Without careful design, you could find yourself losing people after initial interest and ending up back at square one.
Create Materials That Resonate
Before even starting the recruitment efforts for a clinical trial, you need to have an understanding of who it is you want to reach. You need to know which potential patients will provide you with the highest likelihood of success in recruitment and retention. The content of your materials should speak directly to those patients. Address the concerns and questions that may have, their motivations for participating, and what they likely want to get from the trial. Will this ring true of every single person who comes across your trial? Of course not. However, if you’ve done a thorough job with the initial audience outreach research, a vast majority of the people you get in front of will be able to relate to your trial and feel a connection.
Broaden the Search
To boil it down to the ideal participants, you want to start by casting the largest recruitment net possible. Unfortunately, clinical trials have historically struggled to include people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in their research. Unique obstacles for participation need to be carefully considered for these particular populations. Such barriers may include language restrictions, cost, level of invasiveness of the procedure, lack of ethnic or cultural representation, or a possible mistrust of medical establishments. Remove the barriers and reach as many potential patients as possible. If these patients would make ideal trial participants, do what you can to accommodate them.
Find the Right Strategy for You
In the quest for clinical trial patient recruitment, it can be easy to stick with what you know when it comes to outreach methods (especially if you’ve been successful in the past). However, it is very important to keep the big picture in mind. What worked in the past may not be as effective today. Furthermore, by not testing and analyzing a broad range of outreach avenues, you could be missing out on your most receptive audience. You need to take care to ensure that your strategy works specifically for you and is not leading you to dead ends. Diversifying patient recruitment efforts can include incorporating modern approaches, such as targeted advertising on social media, or simply trying something new, like getting physicians involved by providing them with simple inclusion/exclusion cards or posters.
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