Clinical Trials: Patient Recruitment, Education and Retention

World Globe with Stethoscope

Clinical research is expensive. When a study does not reach minimum participation thresholds, pharmaceutical companies stand to lose millions of dollars, not to mention the lost opportunity of improved healthcare. Through clinical research, we gain insights and answers about the safety and effectiveness of drugs and other therapies. Advances in drug development are possible because of the participation of clinical research volunteers, both healthy and ill. Clinical trials constantly need a steady flow of patients and it is an ongoing challenge for CROs, sponsors and medical centers to gather the right patient groups.

The Wall Street Journal reports that nearly 40% of all clinical trials never get off the ground due to lack of participation. For decades, clinical research recruitment has largely been a word of mouth and paper-based process. Patients typically find out about available trials from their doctors, who might have limited information to provide about the specifics of the trial. Additionally, for patient recruitment, clinical trial studies are promoted through a variety of different channels such as television, radio, newspapers and the internet. Another way drug companies are reaching new markets is through expanding clinical trials into new markets.

According to an IDC research brief, mobile and other technologies may be the future of clinical research, in terms of increased participation and patient retention. By using technological tools, researchers can more effectively recruit trial subjects and gather more accurate clinical trial research. According to an IDC research brief “The Internet of Things and Digital Transformation: A Tale of Four Industries,” some ways that technology is being used to improve clinical trials include: Developing centralized databases that patients can search for potential opportunities; electronic health record (EHR) matching; improved patient education; and electronic data collection.

Lack of Participation
In addition to lack of awareness, there are many different reasons why people do not participate in clinical trial studies. Here are a few:

  • Lack of knowledge: People do not know that clinical trials can lead to a solution to their health problems or even know what clinical trials are.
  • Do not meet the study requirements: Some people are interested and willing to participate, but come to find they are unable to enroll or complete a trial for a variety of reasons.
  • Fear: Many people are reluctant to participate because they are afraid. Unknown outcomes, uncertainty if a new treatment can help them, being experimented on, possible side effects and receiving a placebo instead of an actual treatment are a few common fears. Although researchers cannot guarantee outcomes, patient safety is a top priority. Each trial has enforced oversight, and patients also have rights that help protect them.

Patient Recruitment + Education
Many patients and health consumers know very little, if anything, about clinical trials and its process. Educating patients and potential study volunteers is key to successful patient recruitment and retention. CenterWatch offers IRB-approved brochures specifically created for patients for use by sponsors, CROs and medical centers seeking to educate potential patients about clinical trials, as well as help patients make an informed decision about clinical trial participation.

The results obtained from a clinical trial study may generate changes in diagnosing, preventing, treating or curing diseases or disabilities. The participation of volunteers is crucial, medical advances depend on their participation to get the knowledge and answers regarding the safety and effectivity of the drugs and treatments to be analyzed. Without patients, clinical research doesn’t happen.

Welocalize Life Sciences specializes in the translation of clinical materials, including patient education and patient retention documents, helping CROs and sponsors reach diverse patients in more markets. Contact us for more information about professional medical translation services.