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How to Improve Patient Participation in Clinical Trials

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The lack of patient participation in clinical trials has been a challenge for researchers for many years. In fact, only 3% of patients with cancer participate in clinical trials. Results from these trials could mean the difference between finding a cure and continuing to struggle with ailments and diseases for years to come. Why are research teams struggling to get patients to participate in clinical trials? How can we improve these rates to advance our treatments and knowledge of various diseases?

Why Patients Aren’t Enrolling in Clinical Trials

It’s no secret that the general public has doubts, misconceptions, and even concerns about participating in clinical research. Factors that prevent people from enrolling include:

Fear of Participating in a Clinical Trial

Fear is among the top factors that limit clinical trials participation and can come from factors such as:

  • Uncertainty of the trial’s outcome
  • Doubt that a new treatment will actually help them
  • Apprehension at the thought of being a subject
  • Discouragement from receiving a placebo instead of an actual treatment

Although researchers cannot guarantee successful outcomes, patient safety is always their top priority.

Unsure if Insurance Will Cover the Trial

Insurance coverage is also a large contributing factor to the lack of patient participation. Many patients want to be completely sure that their insurance will not only cover the study, but pay for the future care they’ll receive. Because health insurance plans differ, and not all trials and treatments are covered, patients interested in participating in a clinical trial should contact their insurance provider. 

Uninformed About Clinical Trial Opportunities

A study by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) noted that only 33% of adults were aware of clinical trial opportunities. By using social media to engage with patients, these numbers can drastically increase in the upcoming years. Additionally, many patients simply assume their condition does not apply for current clinical trials, or they’re unaware that they qualify to participate. In fact, a Research America poll found that 22% of patients said their health care provider never discussed options for clinical trials with them.

Why Participate in Clinical Trials?

According to a 2013 Perceptions and Insights study from CISCRP, 95% of patients who have previously participated in a clinical trial have also considered joining another trial. This means that there is an opportunity to not only increase the number of participants for clinical trials, but also have them return and participate for future research. There are various reasons for patients to participate in clinical trials, such as:

Clinical Trials Research Improving Health Care:

According to the study from CISCRP, 86% of patients believed that participating in clinical trials helped improve the health of others. Because clinical trials help develop new medicines and treatments, health care professionals and researchers are better able to prevent, diagnose, and treat different ailments. Patients who participate in clinical trials understand that the research will assist future generations and/or others with the same disease.

Access to New Treatments:

The CISCRP study noted that 89% of respondents reported that the potential to improve their own health was the deciding factor to participate in a clinical trial. Receiving innovative treatments before it’s widely distributed to the public is a great opportunity for patients.

Receive Compensation for Participation:

Some people may enroll for clinical trials for the purpose of financial compensation. Others will consider participation as an added bonus while undergoing a new treatment.

The Importance of Patient Participation in Clinical Research

For patients who participate in a clinical trial, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives. Not only can they help others in need, but also receive a treatment that can save them in the future.

To learn more about the George Washington University’s online Master’s in Clinical Research Administration, contact an Admissions Advisor today at (844) 386-7323 or request more information.