Sparking Patient Recruitment with Better Explanation of Trial Benefits

Jennifer Byrne, CEO, PMG Research

Potential clinical trial subjects will be far more likely to participate if they are convinced doing so will benefit their overall health, says Jennifer Byrne, CEO of PMG Research. However, there must be action behind the words explaining trial-related concepts, she stresses.

“Broadening the total value proposition of clinical research” needs to go beyond buzzwords, Byrne says.  Under the old paradigm, patients were enticed by the idea of giving back to society or gaining access to otherwise unattainable mainstream healthcare, but that’s not enough these days, she says.

Fewer than 1% of the general population participates in clinical trials, yet 72% say they would if their doctor recommended it. “Currently, patient and physician awareness of clinical trials is hindered by the complexity of the healthcare system and the lack of an integrated approach,” according to a white paper on “Clinical research participation as a care option” released by Quintiles. Byrne is one of the writers of the report.


Byrne has seen, anecdotally, that demonstrating clinical research can be part of a patient’s complete continuum of care guides potential participants “to the next level.” For example, where possible, patients should be educated with a clear sense of how participating in a clinical trial can improve their own medical outcome and reduce their total cost of care. It can be a “catalyst for behavior change,” Byrne says.

Other bonuses include higher patient satisfaction rates, lower trial costs, and a recognition that patient care is moving toward a more active role for trial subjects, Byrne notes.  “My firm conviction is that clinical trials should be an equal opportunity choice with empowered patients,” she says. “Let’s put clinical trials at the center of their [healthcare] journey.”

Byrne calls for a “movement” that will bring together various stakeholders and build bridges between the research enterprise and the overall healthcare system. That would include physicians, insurance companies, regulators, and the employers who pay the bulk of the costs.

Clinical trial recruitment must face the reality of a changing “healthcare landscape,” according to the Quintiles white paper. For example, it notes that 80% of all U.S. physicians will be employed by healthcare systems by 2020.

Author: Michael Causey