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clinical trials: the challenge of volunteer recruitment

Clinical trials require a minimum number of study volunteers to be enrolled from start to finish in order to be successful. This requires volunteer recruitment, retention, and engagement. Recruiting volunteers to enroll in a clinical trial is one of the most challenging factors, and one that must be overcome to accomplish trial goals.

Poor recruitment can result in trial delays, which can lead to financial losses. Recruitment of too few test subjects creates the potential for presenting biased results; more test participants are needed in order to present comprehensive and conclusive study results.

clinical trials recruitment strategies

Here is why volunteer recruitment presents a challenge to clinical trial managers:

1. Only a small portion of a trial budget goes into study volunteer recruitment.

Recruitment of study participants is as important as any other part of the clinical trial, so setting aside enough money to create awareness and interest in the trial is needed. This ensures the public knows about upcoming clinical trials and how to enroll. The awareness campaign for a clinical trial should also include the importance of the research being done, and the benefits of participation.

2. Many clinical trial participants are primarily interested in money.

Many people enrolling as participants in clinical trials are primarily interested in receiving money for their participation. If the money offered is not enticing enough, or if there is none, few people may be willing to participate.

Clinical trials are important in advancing new treatments for healthcare and improving the health of humans and society. People need to be aware of the impact they might make if a clinical trial presents a new medication that could improve conditions or prevent diseases and change many lives. Letting people know about the impact of their participation in a trial could increase the number of participants, if it's done in a way that really engages people.

3. Recruiting volunteers for condition-specific trials is usually more challenging.

Clinical trials that require healthy individuals are much easier to recruit for compared to those that are trying to recruit patients with specific conditions. Trial sponsors and scientists could target specific facilities that treat the condition in question and ask the practitioners to help create awareness among their pool of patients with those conditions. In these instances, the appeal to join a trial may be early access to a medication that may provide significant health benefits compared to current treatments available.

4. Paperwork can be a deterrent.

Reams of paperwork can deter individuals from participating in clinical trials. Since clinical trials are meant to be experimental, there is some amount of risk involved. This requires a lot of paperwork about safety to be submitted to protect both parties. Simplifying the paperwork process could help in attracting interested individuals.

5. Procedures and potential side effects may be intimidating factors.

Individuals may fear the potential side effects of the new medication that is being trialed, or they may fear the processes and procedures that take place during clinical trials. Participants may be required to frequently collect biological specimens for testing in the lab – usually blood and/or urine samples.

When a trial requires blood collection through venipuncture, for example, this may deter some people from participating. Many people fear needles and blood draws and they would rather avoid a blood collection procedure if at all possible.

Mitra sampling devices for home useHowever, with new, minimally invasive blood collection devices available, painful blood draws can be replaced with a quick finger-stick sampling event.

Portable tools like the Mitra® device with VAMS® or hemaPEN® can be provided to clinical trial volunteers in sample collection kits for at-home collection. This remote microsampling approach eliminates the need for a volunteer to travel to the clinic or lab for a blood draw to be performed by a trained phlebotomist.

Letting the trial recruits know about this convenient and practically painless option for sample collection could lead to higher recruitment rates for your clinical trials.

Learn more by visiting our resource page on Microsampling for Decentralized Clinical Trials: Explore resources for designing a successful decentralized clinical trial (DCT) with remote microsampling.

In some territories our devices are supplied for therapeutic or IVD use Outside of those territories our devices are supplied for research use only

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Trajan, Neoteryx

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