5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience in Trial Recruitment

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5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience in Trial Recruitment

Patient recruitment is one of the most expensive pieces of running a clinical trial. In fact, it can take up around a third of total spending. From developing materials, to advertising costs, spending adds up before campaigns even begin.

A common belief is that recruitment is so challenging because patients aren’t interested in participating. But survey results debunk that claim: More than 70% of people report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in clinical research.

One way to bridge the gap between patients and research is to look at the recruitment process from a patient-centric perspective. From the research you conduct prior to starting a campaign to the ads and landing pages that make up your outreach materials, considering the patient experience can positively transform your recruitment efforts. Try these tips to make your recruitment campaigns more patient-centric, and improve your connections with patients.


1. Get specific when you research your patient population. Before you start outlining a campaign and creating outreach materials, chances are you take some time to look into the demographics of the population you’re trying to reach. Going beneath the surface and spending more time in the research phase can pay off: the more you understand your patient population, the more relevant your outreach materials will be. Visit online message boards, patient blogs, and advocacy organization websites to develop a deeper understanding of day-to-day life with the condition. From there, you can better understand how your study drug has the potential to positively impact patients, and incorporate that messaging into your outreach.

2. Create ads that speak the same language as patients. Sometimes as clinical research professionals, we can become so immersed in a particular area of research that we forget that we don’t necessarily talk about a given condition the same way patients do. For example, your trial may be for atopic dermatitis, but if most patients refer to the condition as eczema, you may choose to use that language more in your outreach materials. Use the research you conducted on patient message boards to understand how patients talk about their own condition, and use that language in your outreach materials.

3. Take different levels of knowledge around clinical research into account. In general, most patients report limited knowledge of clinical research. In your outreach materials, consider including basic information about the benefits and risks associated with clinical research. Being aware of some of the most common questions and concerns around clinical research – whether a placebo will be used, what the purpose of a study is – can help you develop materials that patients respond to. Keep in mind, too, that some patient populations, particularly in the rare disease community, may be more knowledgeable about research participation than other groups are.

4. Consider the patient experience when creating your prescreener. When developing the landing page or prescreener for your trial, think about the kind of information a patient might find helpful in making the decision to join a clinical trial. In a survey from CISCRP, patients reported being the most interested in potential risks and benefits of the trial, the purpose of the trial, and the physical location of the research center. In addition to including this information on your landing page, you can also incorporate it into your outreach materials. When testing different ads, try language that calls out where the research center is located and/or the goal of the trial.

5. Work with patient organizations for research and/or recruitment. Connecting with patient advocates and research organizations can be helpful at any point in your campaign development and execution. Patient organizations can help you understand the most important factors that go into a patient’s decision to participate, and what improvements in treatment would be the most meaningful. Some organizations may also be open to working with your site to help recruit patients, whether through paid outreach, social media, or participation in a local health fair or other event.


Running recruitment campaigns that are patient-centric may involve more up-front effort, but by creating materials that patients trust and connect with, you’ll be more likely to attract qualified participants. “Patient centricity” is more than a buzzword: It’s a way to include the patient’s perspective that improves every part of a trial, including recruitment. Ultimately, better success with recruitment means more on-time trials, and more research breakthroughs that benefit patients everywhere.

Nancy Ryerson

Post by Nancy Ryerson -

Nancy Ryerson is a digital communicator with experience in content, marketing, and social media in the healthcare space. She currently writes for clinical researchers and patients at Antidote, a digital health startup that connects patients to research through an innovative clinical trial search tool. Prior to joining Antidote, she spent three years at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where she communicated research updates and clinical trial opportunities to the Foundation’s social media community of 750,000+ followers.

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