5 Lesser-Known Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment Issues

You're running clinical trial patient recruitment campaigns across several different channels, but you're just not getting a lot of qualified responses. It may feel like you can chalk up clinical trial recruitment problems to a shortage of patients in your area, or a lack of interest. But smaller, less noticeable issues may really be at the root of your recruitment challenges. Check out our list and take a close look at your campaigns to see if these sneaky issues may be the culprit behind your disappointing recruitment results.

1. Your pre-screener is confusing.

If patients are clicking through on your ads but are failing your prescreener, see which questions patients are failing on most often, and consider whether the wording might be confusing. If possible, take out a question that's confusing and ask it while conducting a phone or in-person screening instead. You can also change out your approved ad copy, if you have any other options that can help clarify part of your screener.

2. Your ads aren't speaking the same language as patients.

We don't mean ads are literally in the wrong language – though if your trial is targeting a population that may speak another language, that could be an issue as well. Rather, your ads may not be connecting with your audience because they don't use the same language that patients use to talk about their condition. For example, if your ads refer to diabetes mellitus, but patients would just say “diabetes,” your ads could be lost in translation Consider changing out your ad copy to something more simple, if you have an IRB-approved option. Adjusting your imagery to improve engagement can also help. Antidote's senior designer shared a few tips to help with clinical trial ad design.

3. Patients aren't answering the phone.

One frustrating problem in patient recruitment happens when patients pass your pre-screener, but then don't answer the phone to take the next step. If you can, send a follow-up email with your follow-up site's contact information, or a text message. Younger respondents, in particular, may be less likely to answer the phone. If you notice that a certain age group is more likely to respond to different forms of communication, consider segmenting your ads that way, and adjusting how you get in touch for each group.

4. Your ads are misleading.

Would a patient responding to your ad know that they’re learning more about a clinical trial? If your ad sounds too much like something else – a volunteer opportunity or an ad for an already-approved treatment, for example – they may drop off your page if they’re not interested in a trial opportunity. If your ads have a high click-through rate, but patients aren’t completing your pre-screener or another action on your landing page, misleading ads could be the issue.

5. You’re using an older database.

If a patient database is part of your recruitment strategy, it’s important that contact information is up to date. Non-responsive patients could be a sign that email addresses or phone numbers are no longer in use. Be sure to reach out using all of the contact information you have, and ask patients to update their information if they do respond.

Before you start your next recruitment campaign, set yourself up for success by downloading our template. It has every step you need to take, from asking the right questions to crafting copy that brings in qualified patients.