Patient Recruitment and Retention


By Lizzie Evans on February, 2 2015

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Lizzie Evans

With 2015 well underway a lot of strategic planning for the upcoming year has been ongoing, so we wanted to discuss how to incorporate site support into a recruitment strategy, and why defining site support for recruitment is so valuable at the onset of a trial.

Projecting patient enrollment in clinical trials is dependent on accurate feasibility, sufficient foresight on the impact of recruitment activity and real-time reporting from sites.  That said, some factors that impact the results of a campaign during the recruitment period are out of our control or simply unpredictable – ranging from new competing studies to natural disasters to turbulent political conditions to changing organizational structure at a participating site. With these risks for negative impact on enrollment always at stake, it is critical to support sites by providing management structure around the factors that can consistently be controlled. When developing a plan for recruitment, be sure to account for the following in order to better support study sites.

How will sites be trained to use recruitment tools?

Site support in the context of patient recruitment extends beyond printing marketing materials for a study.  Even when provided on a small scale, guidance on how to best use recruitment tools is necessary for successful application and stronger results.  Whenever possible, training sites on how to use recruitment tools should always occur through active conversation, whether it takes place at an investigator meeting, SIV or one-on-one training. The more effort that goes into training, the more effort that will go into use of the recruitment tools provided, which ultimately impacts enrollment.

How will sites establish recruitment goals?

Help sites distinguish recruitment goals from enrollment goals.  Recruitment goals should be tactical and refer to activities specific to generating referrals, for example to post flyers every month at a given location or to host a local awareness event. This emphasizes accountability and helps sites establish how action will be taken towards achieving and exceeding enrollment targets.

How will sites document and report recruitment progress?

Providing sites the opportunity to exhibit efforts by tracking progress on recruitment goals enhances motivation and engagement among sites. It also provides a key mechanism for sites to assess the impact of their recruitment efforts by identifying successes and challenges. Since this assessment is occurring during the campaign, refinement and optimization of a site’s recruitment strategy is continuous. 

Developing a plan that defines clear responses to these questions will more effectively support study-wide recruitment efforts by standardizing site-specific recruitment strategies.

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