How to Improve Patient Recruitment for Alzheimer's Clinical Trials

There are currently 284 interventional clinical trials looking for a total of 291,640 volunteers with Alzheimer's disease. Patient recruitment has traditionally been difficult for Alzheimer's disease for several reasons, from the nature of disease progression to the role caregivers play in Alzheimer's trials. In fact, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said in a report that recruitment difficulty is the most significant factor delaying drug development.

Adjustments to clinical trial patient recruitment and retention strategies can help improve enrollment and retention and move research closer to much-needed new treatments for this debilitating disease. Consider these challenges and solutions if you're launching an Alzheimer's trial.

Challenge: Because of disease progression, it's difficult to use patient databases for recruitment.

Patient databases are the first stop in recruitment for most research sites, but tend not to be as helpful for Alzheimer's studies. Alzheimer's trials tend to focus on a certain stage of the stage, with trials increasingly focusing on patients with early Alzheimer's or Mild Cognitive Impairment. A patient who signed up for a trial for MCI a year ago, for example, may now have progressed too much to qualify for other trials.

Solution: Work with a recruitment company that reaches out to new patients on a regular basis.

Digital advertising can be effective for early-stage patients who are searching for information on the condition. Working with a company that has connections to Alzheimer's organizations can also help identify patients who fit your trial's requirements.

Challenge: Patients need a care partner for your study.

Because of the nature of the disease, many Alzheimer's clinical trials require participants to bring a care partner to study visits. This can be challenging for early-stage Alzheimer's patients or patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment, as they may not yet require the help of a caregiver. Even for those who do have a caregiver, scheduling a visit that works for both the patient and care partner can be challenging. Many caregivers work full time or have additional commitments beyond providing care for their loved one.

Solution: Be clear about requirements and offer flexibility at your sites.

It's important in this case to ask your recruitment company to include a question about care partners in your pre-screening process. A partner can be a close friend, an adult child, or a partner. Consider asking pre-screening questions over the phone and clearly explaining the requirements of being a care partner, as well as the rationale for why a care partner is needed for a trial.

Including a caregiver also means coordinating a different schedule. Since many caregivers also work full or part time in, offering site visits after work hours can help.

Challenge: Alzheimer's clinical trials lack diversity.

African Americans are twice as likely as whites to develop Alzheimer's disease, but make up only 3 to 5% of Alzheimer's clinical trial participants. Lack of diversity in clinical trials can lead to treatments that don't work as well for everyone.

Solution: Partner with organizations that work with specific patient communities.

One of the best ways to diversify trial participation is to work directly with the community you're trying to reach. If you're working with a recruitment company, ask about their specific plans for ensuring diverse recruitment. Relationships with nonprofits and patient advocates can help, as well as targeted digital outreach.

Learn how Antidote drove more than 27,000 registrations to an Alzheimer's registry for our client, using our blend of digital outreach and partner relationships, by downloading our case studies.