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overcoming clinical trial challenges in patient recruitment

by Neoteryx | 2 min read

Before a new drug or treatment is available to the masses, it is crucial to gather information, from the right study group, about its safety and efficiency. That's why clinical trials are one of the essential stages of getting new drugs and treatments from conception to approval. However, recruiting and retaining trial participants is increasingly difficult and overcoming clinical trial recruitment challenges can be draining.


Barriers To Recruitment in Clinical Trials

  • Clinicians and physicians may simply not be aware that trials are available to their patients or may assume that their patients are not suitable or eligible for recruitment, pointing to a clear need for better communication between pharmaceutical companies and medical practitioners.
  • Unwillingness to lose control over a patient’s care. Physicians who are better informed about the contexts of studies, the benefits, and potential issues, can better recognize the benefits for their patients. A similar focus on communication is needed where the health care provider sees no added value in the potential treatment or is concerned over the additional administrative burden a clinical trial may bring.
  • Not all clinical trial referrals come from physicians. Trials rely heavily on direct recruitment through advertisements. One of the challenges this approach brings is the additional time and effort needed to discount the applicants who are not suitable for the trial. The length of this process can be off-putting for patients being recruited.

Recruitment Barriers From the Participant’s Perspective

A crucial element in any clinical trial is the participant themselves. There are numerous reasons why numbers of participants are dropping, and why retaining those that start trails is becoming increasingly difficult. Many potential participants are being overlooked because of lack of awareness, either through poorly targeted advertising or lack of physician involvement. Lack of access also causes problems; where trials are not conducted on a local level, participants may be unwilling or unable to travel due to work or family commitments, or because they just cannot afford the travel costs and time.

Tackling the Challenges

If clinical trials are to be effective, useful, and cost-efficient, the above mentioned and many other challenges need to be met and overcome, including the most difficult ones: fear and mistrust. While patients fear new drugs and treatments and see only the risks associated with trials, they are unlikely to volunteer to take part or spread the word to others.

To combat the challenges, Kadam and colleagues suggest the involvement of dedicated clinical research coordinators (CRCs), creating positive awareness among people and medical communities and better targeting of participants through predesigned recruitment strategies.

Images of an online cost calculator that shows how much you can save from switching to microsampling when going through a clinical trial

Originally published Jan 9, 2018 4:46:00 AM, updated on July 15, 2020


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