Engaging PIs Critical First Step to Improving Patient Engagement in Trials

Corinna Bowers, BSBA, CCRC, Team Lead-Clinical Research Program Manager, Clinical Research Services, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Armed with lessons learned and best practices that passed the test during her massive multi-site, multi-year trial observing four disease indications in nephrology, Corinna Bowers, BSBA, CCRC, team lead-clinical research program manager in Clinical Research Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, has some thoughts about how to improve patient retention in clinical trials.

The key? “Physician engagement,” she says. “Patients put more weight on the words of physicians than” other clinical trial personnel, Bowers notes. For example, physicians can improve retention rates by stressing to patients how important the research they’re part of is, and how it is contributing to a greater common good, she adds.

She’s a big fan of monthly meetings with physician principal investigators (PIs) to remind them of their importance to retention efforts. Leverage the PIs and get them excited about firing up patients, Bowers says.

“Retention is a chronic challenge” in clinical trial studies, Bowers notes, “and finding new ways to address it is a challenge.” In addition, large multi-site studies are sometimes under undue pressure to “retain every single subject they enroll,” she says. “That’s not realistic,” she adds.

101 Dalmatians on Steroids: Enrollment and Retention

Join Bowers and colleague Samantha Sharpe, MD, at ACRP 2022 when they will share their experiences overcoming enrollment and retention challenges. Bowers and Sharpe will offer methods and tools they have used to overcome obstacles that you can put to work in your studies.

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“Just because a patient qualifies doesn’t automatically mean they should be enrolled in a study,” Bowers says. For example, in pediatric studies that reach into late adolescence, it’s important to get a handle on the plans patients have in the future. “Will they be moving away to college when they graduate from high school?” If so, it’s important to figure out contingency plans such as the feasibility of keeping them in the study using remote technologies, she says.

“For all its negativity, COVID-19 has enlightened us that there are other ways we can conduct clinical trial visits,” Bower says. When feasible, she’s a big advocate of reducing the number of onsite visits and changing trial structure to help ease patient participation burden. “Study leaders [should take advantage of] the opportunity to look at how we perform clinical trials” and make improvements for the sake of both PIs and patients, she says.

Author: Michael Causey