How to Advertise Different Types of Clinical Trials

Prior research on patient interest in clinical trials has tended to focus on studies as a monolith. At Antidote, we were curious whether the type of trial – observational, interventional, etc. – made a difference in terms of patient interest.

After surveying nearly 4,000 patients, we learned that the short answer is yes – though specific findings vary by condition type and race.

Our latest whitepaper digs into these findings (download it here if you're interested) and also got us thinking about how our research may be applied to clinical trial advertising. Different types of clinical trials may require a varied approach to promotion. Here's what this means in practice:

Observational trials offer a path to engage diverse patients

Non-white patients have traditionally been under-represented in clinical trials, driven in part by unethical practices that contributed to an understandable mistrust of research. Studies show that trust has improved, however, and our findings suggest that observational trials in particular may appeal to non-white patients.

Relative to white individuals, non-white individuals in our survey were more likely to partake in an observational trial. While it's important for diverse patients to be involved in all types of research, our research suggests that observational trials in particular may be the best place to start. Observational trials offer patients the opportunity to get involved in research, without the risk of taking an investigational treatment.

Research teams advertising an observational trial may emphasize that these types of trials help scientists learn more about how certain treatments work in different people, for example. It's possible that observational trials can even act as a path forward for patients who start out with less trust in the research process.

Are the benefits worth the risk? Advertising clinical trials for side effect treatments

In our survey, patients in general showed a high level of interest in clinical trial participation in general. Clinical trials researching a potential cure for a disease ranked at the top for patients. Patients were least interested, however, in clinical trials researching a potential treatment for a side effect of an existing treatment.

This finding suggests that certain types of clinical trials may be a tougher sell than others. For clinical trials for side effects of other treatments, focusing on the benefit to the patient is best for recruitment. Some patients don't like the idea of adding another pill to their regimen, so it's important to focus on the goal of the trial in terms of quality-of-life improvements. Including the rationale for the study is particularly important when promoting these types of trials.

Positioning interventional trials the right way

Patients in our survey were most interested, overall, in participating in clinical trials researching a potential cure for their condition. It's possible that for patients, the benefit of potentially curing their condition would outweigh the perceived risks of participating in an interventional clinical trial.

Break-through trials that may slow or stop a condition are exciting, but even trials that offer a better alternative to existing treatments can make a difference in patient lives. To that end, it's important that clinical trial advertising for any interventional trial addresses patient concerns around safety while emphasizing the potential benefits of taking part. For example, patient recruiters may note in a landing page that a trial is in Phase III, and explain that hundreds of patients have already safely tried the treatment. Patient recruiters may also emphasize any specific potential benefits to participating, such as receiving care from specialists in the condition area being researched.

The more context patient recruiters can provide around a clinical trial, the more patient concerns may be assuaged and benefits emphasized. To learn more about our findings and how they can be applied to patient recruitment, download our free whitepaper below.