Regional Differences Found in COVID-19’s Raising of Awareness About Clinical Trials

Annick de Bruin, Director of Research Services, CISCRP

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made clinical trials a much more common topic in the news over the last several months, the clinical research enterprise still has a way to go in terms of educating large swaths of the public about their importance for healthcare, according to a new survey from the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP).

“Interestingly, among the minority that had recently heard of a COVID-19 clinical research study in the recruitment phase, we learned that a higher proportion (40%) of Europeans are aware [of the topic] than Americans (34%),” said Annick de Bruin, director of research services for CISCRP. “This contrasts with our larger baseline 2019 Perceptions & Insights Study, where we found that North Americans are more likely to be aware of a current clinical trial in general than [people in] any other region. This may partially be due to the fact that the crisis evolved earlier in Europe.”

Misconceptions about the clinical research development process persist. Most survey respondents (60%) think a treatment or vaccine for the virus will be developed in less than one year. Once developed, the majority (64%) think it will be less than a year before people can start receiving it. In reality, the timelines can be expected to stretch well beyond those optimistic estimations.

Patients currently enrolled in ongoing clinical trials for conditions other than COVID-19 report experiencing changes in their participation as a result of the pandemic through such practices as the use of telemedicine, deliveries of study medication to their homes, and reliance on smartphone apps. Twenty-six percent report a suspension of the clinical research study in which they were enrolled and 11% report a reduced number of in-person clinic visits.

Top motivators for participating in a COVID-19 clinical research study include altruistic reasons, with 46% mentioning “to help others who are suffering” and 46% mentioning “to advance science and the treatment of COVID-19.” These motivations are in line with findings from the larger baseline 2019 Perceptions & Insights Study.

Edited by Michael Causey