Non-Traditional Trial Recruitment Strategies for Non-Traditional Populations

Innovative and out of the box methods are often required for the recruitment of challenging populations in clinical trials that would otherwise fail miserably when using conventional recruitment strategies. In this arena, Biorasi has positioned itself as a pioneer and repeatedly demonstrated enormous capabilities in establishing smart recruiting approaches for difficult to recruit patient populations. In this blog, we will discuss a few of these approaches.

 

Recruitment Strategies

An increasingly common tactic involves the use of tailored approaches in recruitment like use of community based settings and groups, as well as the use of “patient navigators”. Community settings outreach effectively tackles the problem of patient identification. For example, to fill the existing wide gap between minorities and the clinical research enterprise, researchers can do outreach in community-based settings and via existing community groups, such as civic groups and neighborhood associations, for recruitment. Hence, designing or adapting recruitment methods that are in accordance with the cultural framework of a targeted population.

On the other hand, the use of patient navigators addresses the recruitment problem after identification. Researchers have recently begun utilizing trained laypersons (“patient navigators”) to engage patients both in their communities and in certain health care settings to increase awareness and enrollment in clinical trials. Patient navigators also increase opportunities for trial participation by guiding patients through the frequently complex series of diagnostics or through the clinical visits required that often precede the identification of suitable clinical trials. Finally, once a patient is offered enrollment in a trial, a patient navigator may facilitate potential participants’ informed decision-making at the point of entry into a trial by addressing their questions about the trial procedures or the informed consent process.

Another growing type of approach includes forging partnerships with disease centered foundations. In fact, this strategy works best with the increasingly available trials targeting rare diseases. Foundations represent a seamless resource to access rare disease patients in a variety of ways. Many of the rare disease foundations created detailed registries of patients across the country that hold information about demography, healthcare institutions and clinics involved and type of care given, etc. Subsequently, these foundations can easily disseminate information regarding symposia, webinars, and available clinical trials to the specific patient population and their care givers. Hence, well founded partnerships with those foundations could go a long way in terms of insuring success of clinical trials by facilitating the access to both the patients and their healthcare providers.

Finally, social media represents the newest trend in clinical trial recruitment strategy, especially for hard to reach populations. In fact, it allows for out of the box recruitment tactics like boosting posts, promoting websites, events and public fan pages, all of which have proven to be very effective. In an effort to quantify the effectiveness of this method, a recent peer reviewed study showed that social media resulted in an 86% boost in the number of applications initiated and 2.5 times faster recruitment when compared to traditional strategies.

 

Enrollment of difficult to recruit patient populations constitutes a definite rate limiting step in a clinical trial. Non-traditional methodologies are then required to bypass this obstacle, ensure success and potentially deliver novel lifesaving therapies to understudied patient populations. Hence, it is imperative to continuously explore and optimize alternative strategies for the successful recruitment of hard to access populations.

Jimmy El Hokayem, PhD
Jimmy El Hokayem, PhD
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