Recruiting and Communicating with Participants

At this point the trial is open for enrollment. Now what?  You should be finding, meeting, and establishing relationships with participants. But how?  By following through on all the work and planning you did in the first three stages of the trial lifecycle, your earlier efforts will pay off.

At this stage, it is vital to continue to be thoughtful about participants, staff, and those in the community with access to participants such as physicians and partner organizations. Use good communication skills (like being participant-friendly) and habits (like keeping referring physicians in the loop).


Lifecycle Strategy 1

Engage intermediaries to aid accrual

Good planning and good relationships matter! Referring physicians, community leaders, members of community or advocacy organizations, and patient navigators can support your study. But in return, remember to share information, keep them informed, and listen to their feedback. 

Lifecycle Strategy 2

Identify potentially eligible participants

The main reason that people join clinical trials is because they were invited to do so by their physician. Jump start the process by reviewing patient records before clinic visits to identify potentially eligible patients. Implement a systematic process to identify potentially eligible participants and keep track of accrual performance. Reviewing reasons why people choose not to participate offers valuable insights. 

Lifecycle Strategy 3

Engage participants in the Informed Consent Process

Successful recruitment may depend on how you approach someone about participation. Informed consent is a process and every conversation with the patient is part of the process. Knowledge of the protocol is critical—so are good communication skills!

Lifecycle Strategy 4

Consider participant financial issues

Coverage of clinical trials can be a major barrier to accrual, so it is important to understand the policies of insurers in your area concerning clinical research. A simple phone call might help you understand insurer's viewpoints and constraints, and give you an opportunity to share your ideas, too

Lifecycle Strategy 5

Maintain the morale and interest of staff, participants and their families

To advance science, clinical trials need participants to enroll, stay involved, and follow study guidelines. Yet, it can be easy to focus heavily on recruiting participants, sometimes to the detriment of retaining participants. Use a forward-looking approach and good two-way communication to foster the trusting relationships that support retention in the trial and adherence to the protocol.

Lifecycle Strategy 6

Update participants regarding study related events and results

Good patient contact information is critically important if a study closes early or other unexpected events occur. Participants also appreciate hearing about study results when they are available.