January 15th, 2015

Clinical Trial Recruitment Considerations for 2015

As a time of reflection, a new year affords clinical trial recruiters the opportunity to look back on what worked well in 2014, and ponder what lies ahead for 2015. Here are some points that will need to be taken into consideration when thinking about strategy changes for the upcoming year:Clinical-Trial-Recruitment,-Clinical-Trial-Strategy,-Clinical-Trial-Marketing

  • Falling Recruitment Rates Require New Strategies: Clinical trials have suffered an alarming drop in recruitment rates for many reasons. Some trials never get off the ground, while others languish with too few participants or high drop-out rates. Recruiters will have to increase efforts and ramp up their creativity to develop new strategies for attracting the necessary number of participants and motivating them to stay engaged through the completion of the trial. In clinical trials for Parkinson’s Disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation is taking new steps to improve patient participation. In 2010 the Foundation decided to prioritize outreach and education about the role patients play in research. Their work enabled the Parkinson‘s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) to successfully recruit 400 early-stage unmedicated patients and 200 age- and gender-matched controls for a five year study.

  • Even Older Demographics are Becoming More Internet Savvy: Many clinical trials target diseases that affect older populations, thus requiring different recruitment strategies. While it was traditionally felt that newspapers or radio advertisements were the most effective ways of finding older participants, a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center may change that way of thinking. It found that more than half of those adults aged 65 or older were now internet users. Over 77% already have a cell phone, and smart phone usage is surely going to become more integrated into their lives as well. The use of these media to attract a wider pool of eligible participants must be part of any recruitment strategy.

  • Patient-Centric Recruitment Will Demand More Attention: Because there are so many social networks and virtual communities now taking over the internet, clinical trial recruiters will have to find new ways to become part of the conversation. They should strive to uncover opportunities to connect with patients who are already online and communicate the benefits of their particular trial. A study of the role of social media in recruiting for clinical trials in pregnancy showed that recruitment through social media resulted in a substantial increase. The authors strongly recommended using online social media platforms to improve patient recruitment rates, maximize recruitment efficiency, and increase cost-effectiveness in clinical studies.

In short, 2015 will likely be a year of drastic change in recruiting strategies for clinical trials. Data-driven, performance-based online marketing strategies will need to supplant traditional advertising methodologies to catch the attention of the digitally-engaged public. Clinical trial recruiters will want to learn how to create search engine strategies that hit home with a target audience and drive traffic to dynamic websites that convert leads into trial participants. It can be a challenge, but it can also be an exciting new day for clinical trial recruitment.