Maintaining patient centricity in clinical trial patient recruitment

A common problem in the clinical trial industry is finding enough interested individuals to take part in a study. However, keeping patients at the center of clinical trial marketing is one of the most effective ways to address this issue. Having a deep understanding of the patient experience and considering what patients want and need from research (otherwise known as a patient-centric approach) is a vital aspect of encouraging interest and participation in clinical research. 

Understanding what motivates patients to join clinical trials and what may deter them from participating makes it possible to create clinical trial digital advertising that speaks directly to patients’ interests. That is why we surveyed 145 patients in the Antidote database who had been in a clinical trial or were interested in taking part and sharing the valuable lessons that we learned from their responses below.

The patient perspective on medical research

Patients are altruistic. When patients were asked about the main reason that they would take part in a clinical trial, one-third (33%) said “driving medical research forward to benefit others with my condition” was the most important factor. One write-in we received sums up this attitude perfectly: “...knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life — now that’s cool.” A recent study conducted by CISCRP also found this to be true, as 55% of respondents ranked “help advance science and the treatment of my disease/condition” as the number one reason to participate in a clinical trial.

Patients want access to better medications and education on their condition. Coming in second after driving research forward, patients cited “gaining access to treatments in development” (21%) and “learning more about my condition” (12%) as top reasons for participation. One of the biggest pros of participating in a clinical trial is the access to potentially new treatments, and it seems that patients understand this benefit.

Patients are worried about safety. When asked why they wouldn’t participate in a trial, the top reason given was “worrying about whether the drug or procedure being tested is safe” (57%), according to our survey. It is true that clinical trials come with an element of the unknown, especially when patients aren’t as familiar with placebo and standard-of-care procedures, which can be concerning and should certainly be addressed.

Creating patient-centric clinical trial recruitment strategies

By understanding the main drivers for patients, it is easier to create outreach that puts patient centricity at the forefront. When conducting outreach, emphasizing the positives and addressing the negatives can help patients better understand if a trial is a good fit for them. Here are some tips for this:

Provide as much information as possible. Patients are often interested in research for altruistic reasons and are excited about helping, but they are also worried about safety and what will happen to them if they take a treatment that has not yet been approved. For this reason, it may be helpful to include messaging that emphasizes the positive impact of driving medical research forward, while also including information about the treatment being studied, if a placebo will be used, and what phase the trial is in.

Include patient testimonials. Including patient stories can provide an easy way for patients to picture themselves participating in a clinical trial. Many patients who have volunteered for research in the past are now advocates who are happy to share their stories, so connecting these individuals with a platform can be a powerful way to show potential participants the real-world impact they could have.

Keep outreach language simple. It is important to consider the readability and user-friendliness of every piece of study collateral and review outreach material while considering that 36% of Americans are considered to have low health literacy. Using clear imagery, infographics, and basic language can make a difference in how materials are perceived and interacted with by patients, ensuring that every individual who could benefit from clinical trial participation can access the materials they need to enroll.