Top 10 Common Misconceptions About Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment

Patient recruitment is one of the most important aspects of any clinical trial. It’s also sometimes the most difficult. From identifying a diverse representation of participants who will yield the right results to effectively engaging enrollees from beginning to end until they complete the trial—patient recruitment can be challenging. But it’s important to ease the fears around drug trials and improve our understanding of patient recruitment so that clinical researchers can improve their processes and more people are encouraged to participate.

If you have concerns about clinical trial patient recruitment, you’re not alone. Here are 10 common misconceptions and insights into each to help you moving forward:

Misconception #1: Patients don’t want to read about drug trials on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram

Your patients are online, no matter the target audience. And they’re using social media sites to research healthcare information and learn more about doctors and specialists. In fact, 80% of all internet users employ social media to learn more about doctors, hospitals, and medical news and information, according to the National Library of Medicine. Through sophisticated digital targeting strategies and compelling creative, patient recruitment companies can reach patients who are engaging with this kind of content online and share relevant trial opportunities.

Misconception #2: Clinical trials are only for patients with life-threatening illnesses

Pharmaceutical companies all over the world are conducting clinical trials with varying urgencies. From preventing eczema to treating conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) trials focus on a wide range of medical conditions and symptom management, not just life-threatening illnesses.

Misconception #3: Digital patient recruitment is only for young people

While some websites or social media platforms see larger audiences in specific age brackets, the internet is used by people of all ages. For example, according to Statista, men and women over the age of 45 accounted for 36.5% of all Facebook users in 2023. That’s more than people aged 18-24 (18.1%), 25-34 (23.6%), or 35-44 (18.4%). No matter the age demographic that would best suit a clinical trial, digital patient recruitment can identify and engage them.

Misconception #4: Clinical trials are always a lengthy time commitment for participants

Clinical trials are designed to be as minimally invasive as possible. While they vary in the amount of time from beginning to end, many clinical trials offer flexible scheduling and remote participation. And some trials may cover additional costs related to participation, such as travel and childcare. Some studies have visits that are a couple of hours, some include an overnight stay, and some collect data over a period of several years. Clinical research isn’t a monolith.

Misconception #5: Patients always have to stop other treatments when they enroll in a new clinical trial

While this can be the case in some studies, many clinical trials encourage patients to continue with their current treatment plan. That way, they can measure how new drugs or therapeutic treatments affect the outcome. Clinical researchers want the most complete real-world data they can gather. That’s what will lead to the most applicable insights as a drug trial moves through its stages to approval.

Misconception #6: Social media doesn’t lead to patient engagement

Social media is not a broadcasting channel. It’s an interactive channel. And understanding social media’s role in the recruitment process, your digital recruitment can go beyond mere impressions and clicks. According to Forbes, 80% of consumers make buying decisions based on a friend’s social media post.

Additionally, CISCRP published in its 2023 Perceptions and Insights Study that 36% of survey respondents said that the first step in finding a clinical research study that’s right for them (other than speaking with their doctor) would be to search Google or browse social media. By partnering with a digital patient recruitment provider that can identify and then captivate an audience that is proven to engage with advertisers.

Misconception #7: Clinical trials are always dangerous

The perception of clinical trials equating to high-risk science experiments is misguided. Every study carries uncertainty, and clinical trials can pose potential risks, such as temporary discomfort or other side effects. But federal regulatory bodies are constantly adjusting guidance to help ensure the safety of trial participants. Additionally, any drugs or therapeutic treatments have to be approved before going to trial.

Misconception #8: Most people aren’t interested in participating in a clinical trial

People are interested in clinical trials, they’re just not aware of clinical trials. Patient recruitment is a targeted process because identifying the right participants is paramount to researchers coming away with actionable data. People regularly show a strong level of interest once they understand their options. In fact, according to CISCRP’s 2023 Perceptions and Insights Study, 46% of North American respondents indicated they were “Very Willing” to participate in a clinical research study.

Misconception #9: Clinical trials aren’t diverse enough to apply to me

Diversity is a chief concern for federal regulatory bodies as they pertain to patient recruitment in clinical trials. Representation builds public confidence in emerging medicine. In fact, FDA legislation mandates that researchers enroll patients from a diverse population when testing a new drug, and many clinical trials suffer delays because their enrollment isn’t diverse enough.

Misconception #10: Personal health information is at a security risk if I enroll in a clinical trial

The safety and security of all private health information is a high priority for everyone involved in the clinical trial process, and that includes patient recruitment providers. Federal regulations also ensure that patient information is protected. Participant health history is also frequently stored in a way that it’s separate from their personal information, ensuring that patients cannot be identified.

1nHealth: Filling clinical trials faster with digital patient recruitment

At 1nHealth, our digital recruitment is designed with the patient in mind, addressing common misconceptions and providing participants with all the information they need to make an informed decision. Our mission is to advance human health by filling up research studies faster than anyone thought possible, while being great humans to clients, to each other, and to patients around the world.

Ready to learn more about how we can help you fill your next clinical trial?

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