What Is the Patient Recruitment Process for Clinical Trials?

In the clinical trial patient recruitment process, sponsors, sites, or recruitment companies look for ways to connect with patients who may be eligible for their trial. It's a multi-step process that begins with thorough research around the patient population and the creation of a tailored outreach plan.

From digging into patient demographics to successfully submitting to your IRB, follow these steps to set your clinical trial patient recruitment campaign up for success:

Step 1: Research your patient population. Start by looking into basic demographics about your patient population, as well as what life is like living with their condition, in order to develop a list of potential benefits for participation in your trial. For help brainstorming benefits and potential recruitment barriers, we created a clinical trial patient recruitment template with key questions to ask about your patient population and trial.

If possible, it's also helpful to research your patient population before selecting sites for your clinical trial to help reduce the risk of under-enrollment in certain areas. Unfortunately, many sites don't reach their enrollment goals, and one in 10 fail to enroll any patients at all.

Step 2: Create a prescreener or landing page about your trial. When you start outreach for your trial, where will you send patients? Creating a prescreener that asks a few questions related to your inclusion and exclusion criteria is one option. You can also create a landing page about the trial with contact information for sites so patients can reach out. A prescreener or website are considered to be outreach materials, so you'll need to have them approved by your Internal Review Board (IRB) along with your other outreach materials.

Step 3: Outline your outreach plan. Which channels will you use to promote your trial? Use the research you began in step one to help inform which channels will be best for reaching your audience. Facebook is one of the most powerful ways to reach audiences, but if you're looking for alternatives, we recently gathered together a few suggestions for other social media platforms to try.

Step 4: Develop outreach materials. In this step, you'll create ad copy, choose images, design flyers, and create any additional outreach materials for your campaign. It's important to keep in mind that once materials are IRB-approved, you have to use them exactly as written. Be sure to include a variety of outreach options so you can run effective ad tests and find messaging that works best for your outreach. Follow these IRB guidelines when developing your outreach materials.

Step 5: Submit to your Internal Review Board (IRB). After you submit your materials to your IRB, it may take a few weeks for you to receive feedback. If your IRB comes back with requested changes, you'll need to re-submit your materials. When you're creating your recruitment plan, be sure to factor your IRB's timeline into your schedule to avoid delays in launching.

Step 6: Begin outreach and analyze your results. Before you launch your campaign, make sure you're setting up tests for your ads so you can find the combinations that work best. In addition to testing ad copy, you can also target different audiences through Facebook or other platforms to identify your most responsive audience.

Need help finding the right patients for your trial? Antidote works with a network of 250+ health nonprofits and patient advocates to connect patients with research. Download our patient recruitment template, and get in touch for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.