Survey Shows Barriers to Clinical Trial Recruitment

clinical trial recruitment

We have long known the challenges of clinical trial recruitment. So it’s not a surprise that a new survey conducted by SubjectWell shows that a general lack of awareness is a major hurdle in clinical trial recruitment.

The Pharma industry spends more than $2 billion per year on clinical trial recruitment. However, these dollars don’t seem to be producing the desired results. The survey found that 50% of the respondents were not aware of clinical trials and only four percent had ever participated in one.

Media is a primary source used for recruiting. However, when asked if they had recalled seeing ads for clinical trials, 57% of the participants said they had not.

If the pool for recruitment consists of many people who have not heard of trials or seen them advertised, how would they go about participating?  It is obviously a challenge.

Only 31% said they felt confident (20%) or very confident (11%) in being able to find a clinical trial if they wanted to participate in one.  And when asked what steps they would take to participate in one, the survey found that the most common responses were:

  • Don’t know (31%)
  • Contact a pharma company (16%)
  • General internet search (15%)
  • Ask pharmacist (15%)
  • Ask physician (11%)

Thankfully, there is hope.  This lack of familiarity does not translate to lack of confidence.  Almost half (47%) of the respondents had a very positive or somewhat positive perception of clinical trials.  If sponsor companies can just find the right way to connect with and engage these potential candidates, patient recruitment – which has one of the biggest impacts on study timelines – will become a far easier task.

Pharmica Take:

For many, a shroud of mystery covers the world of clinical trials. While sponsor companies are doing more each day to get the word out, it’s clear from these survey results that they have their work cut out for them.  Even as someone who works in the industry – and more specifically in clinical trial operations – I am very aware of the general existence of these trials. But other than a handful of radio commercials, I can’t recall seeing any kinds of notifications for study participation in the last ten years.

Sponsor companies must step up their efforts and embrace a more widespread method of outreach. This includes all forms of social media.  While it’s true that many older folks may miss out on this ‘newfangled’ way of communicating, that’s the way the world is heading. In many ways, it’s already there.

Sponsor companies need to see beyond the communication of upcoming trials. They would surely see an uptick in study awareness and participation if they were to fully embrace the building wave of patient engagement.  By partnering with patients in managing their health care and getting them more involved with the studies in various ways (getting feedback on study design, disclosing study results, etc.) then clinical trials can become more a part of everyday life.