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How can we improve patient recruitment in clinical trials?

Last Updated on February 16, 2024

Efficient patient recruitment in clinical trials is essential to ensure a study is completed in time without overspending on resources. While many challenges are associated with recruiting patients, let’s first dive into some strategies to improve recruitment, followed by the challenges.    

What is Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials?

Finding, screening, and signing up eligible people to participate in a clinical study is called “patient recruitment.” The following step is crucial because it directly affects the trial’s length.

Moreover, how much does it cost, and how many people pass or fail? Furthermore, patient recruitment in clinical trials is necessary to conduct research. For instance, reach out to potential trial participants. Moreover, explain the study’s goal and requirements and ensure that those who sign up meet the criteria.

What are Some Patient Recruitment Strategies in Clinical Trials?

Patient recruitment in clinical trials is a process with many steps that you should take the time to understand fully. Companies that help people get into clinical trials talk about doing a lot of study, testing, and improving things all the time. But what does that mean?

Here are the steps we take to fulfill a plan for patient recruitment in clinical trials, from learning about the patients’ backgrounds to completing and sending in an IRB packet. Here is our step-by-step plan:

Make a budget:

Setting aside enough money for advertising, partnering (with companies that help find patients), unique patient benefits if needed, the costs that come up if the start date isn’t met, and other things.

Make a starting budget for recruitment that considers the right factors for patient outreach.

  • When determining resources, focus on marketing your clinical research site to clinical trial sponsors.
  • Plan the budget early to ensure the costs of hiring people are planned for and handled.
  • Utilize a well-thought-out communication plan to ensure communication and outreach are done quickly and well.

Research About the patients:

For a good recruitment campaign, sponsors must know much about the patients they want to help. Start with the basic demographics of your patients, such as their age, gender, race, ethnicity, and any other important information. It’s also important to consider how the condition affects a patient’s daily life. Consequently, this can help us determine and explain the benefits of participating in the study.

Making a Pre-Screener and Home Page for the Trial:

Before you start patient recruitment in clinical trials, you must ensure you have a place to send people who have shown interest in the study.

A landing page that provides additional information about the trial allows patients to gain more background knowledge. Simultaneously, a pre-screener actively gathers information from individuals who might be eligible, shedding light on the factors used to include or exclude participants from the trial.

Pre-screeners and landing pages are both types of outreach materials, so we’ll write them as part of the materials we send to the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Write up the Plan for Reaching Out:

We can identify the outlets that will work best for your patient recruitment in clinical trials campaign using the research we started in step one. Facebook is a great way to connect with a wide range of people, but other social media sites may also be helpful for sponsors in patient recruitment based on the type of people they want to reach.

We also use our partner network, which includes patient support groups, to get advice on how to compare different groups of patients best and what might be most important to say to those groups. An outreach plan is an excellent way to ensure that all materials use the same language and show the same parts of the study that the sponsor wants to stress. As a result, this makes things easier for the patient recruitment process in clinical trials.

Create tools for Outreach:

This phase involves writing the campaign’s advertisement language, choosing the campaign’s visuals, designing the materials, and producing any extra outreach materials. We include everything in our outreach materials before sending them for review to ensure they are IRB-approved. The copy for ads, social media posts, and emails must be varied so we can do practical tests and find the messaging that works best for your community.

Giving the Papers to IRB for Outreach:

Once they are all together, send the outreach tools to the IRB. It usually takes a few weeks to get feedback and extra time for any required changes.

To avoid delays, we work closely with sponsors to create a start schedule considering this.

Start Reaching Out and Look at the Results:

To learn more about the target audience, utilize this time to test advertising and audiences on Facebook and other platforms.

Moreover, this data also helps improve the marketing plan during recruiting to determine which group reacts better to outreach.

What are the Challenges in Patient Recruitment for Clinical Trials?

For several reasons, trial teams need help finding people to participate in clinical studies. However, some eligible patients are still waiting to experience it. Some of the reasons for this are not knowing enough about it, being afraid of what they don’t know, not trusting others, not having a handy place to study or enough time, and so on. Because of this, recruitment deadlines may not be met on time, which can cause costs to rise and affect the study’s total success.

The five most significant challenges for patient recruitment in clinical trials are:

Participant Awareness and Interest:

Getting enough people to sign up and meet the participation goals can be challenging if the public needs to be made aware of and interested in clinical trials.

Criteria for Inclusion and Exclusion:

Strict inclusion and exclusion criteria can limit the number of qualified people, making patient recruitment in clinical trials hard.

Referrals from Doctors:

Doctors may only want to send their patients to clinical studies if they need more time, money, or knowledge about the risks.

Geographical Barriers:

It can be hard to get to clinical study sites or need help getting to them, making it hard to enroll eligible patients.

Patient Burden:

Patient recruitment in clinical trials includes many appointments, complicated procedures, and changes to your daily life. As a result, the stress of participating can stop people from signing up.

Recruitment techniques must be prioritized and updated during the study because many clinical trial locations fail to recruit participants.

How do you Overcome these Challenges in Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials?

Additionally, prioritizing communication becomes crucial when a patient becomes aware of clinical trials. Additionally, throughout the screening, enrollment, and the entire patient journey. As a result, this emphasis on communication is essential for implementing the patient-centered approach to enhance patient recruitment in clinical trials.

The vast majority of interactions can be done remotely and with modern technology.

For example, this involves running ads, engaging in conversation, providing comprehensive information for informed consent and compliance, and retrieving data.

The progress indicates improvement in speed and efficiency, but on the other hand, it makes it easy to forget about things. The more complicated and varied the information an application processes, the more help they will need. This lack of information can cause two bad things to happen.

First, it might turn them off so much that they lose interest and can’t be enrolled. Second, and this is much worse, it can make them sign up for something they need help understanding.

Technology, on the other hand, can help with this too. Using a variety of media types to educate and motivate patients is essential. For instance, it includes training movies, visualizations, animations, and any other suitable tools.

Because of this, it’s essential to keep in touch after the trial is over as well. Following up on a good experience can give the person closure and help them stay happy and become lifelong supporters.


Patient recruitment in clinical trials has been difficult for so long, partly because of a poor research methodology. Numerous patient studies show that there are better methods than employing patients as test subjects. Utilizing resources to improve the patient experience, from when they know about clinical trials to the follow-up messages after the study is over. The following steps can significantly impact patient recruitment and retention.

We at Minerva can help you find people to participate in your clinical study. We use data-driven insights and a full-service recruitment model to help you find patients interested in your research. As a result, this will help you hit your enrollment goals. Get in touch with us right away to find out how we can help.

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