Engaging participants and creating a positive experience throughout your clinical trial increases protocol compliance, participant retention, and future recruitment and referrals. It may seem difficult for large, international, multicenter trials to ensure a positive experience for each individual participant. However, organizations can succeed despite the distance, language, and trial complexity by focusing on three key aspects of engagement identified by participants:
- Keeping participants informed
- Ensuring they’re part of the team
- Conducting smooth and seamless site visits
Strategy #1: Keeping Participants Informed
Participants want to feel completely up to speed and informed about their trials. To support comprehension and inclusion, how and what you communicate should incorporate your participant group’s unique needs. This includes consideration for diverse age ranges, ethnicities, and levels of health literacy. You should also consider participant preferences when it comes to communications, information-seeking behaviors, and what messages are most likely to resonate.
This may seem difficult to put into practice, but in reality, all you need are a few simple steps. Establishing a dialogue with your target population early on, delivering consistent communication throughout the trial, and seeking feedback from participants about their experience go a long way. In addition, extend engagement beyond the trial itself by informing participants of the potential trial outcomes.
Strategy #2: Making Participants Feel Part of the Team
Research shows there are highly significant benefits to feeling like you are part of a team working toward a common goal.1 Tactics to harness team energy include generating buy-in for each team member’s role and responsibilities, communicating what the trial aims to achieve, and reiterating the importance of each team member’s active participation. To implement these strategies successfully, your organization must engage with and depend on the site.
Strategy #3: Establishing Smooth and Seamless Site Visits
To ensure site visits are smooth and seamless for participants, you need to first understand considerations influencing their experience. Ask the following:
- Have you prepared participants for what procedures to expect during each visit?
- Are participants aware of the time commitment of each visit?
- Where can they access this information, and is it up to date?
For example, your site may need to conduct a procedure rendering the participant unable to operate a vehicle for a certain amount of time. Does your participant understand they will need to arrange appropriate transportation after the visit? To communicate expectations, utilize intuitive platforms like Longboat to guide your participants before, during, and after their visit.
As mentioned, engaged sites are critical to successfully engaging participants. It’s equally important to understand what factors affect the site team, as it is ultimately the participant’s interaction with site staff most significantly impacting the visit. A good trial experience relies on sponsors and CROs focusing on what really matters to both sites and patients. This means looking for ways to reduce site burden, allowing them to focus attention on participant engagement and care.
The Role of Trust in Engagement Strategies
The key to overall success is establishing trust between participants and trial staff. Each side needs to understand, acknowledge, and respect what is important to the other.
Participants are the single most important part of clinical research. To succeed, commit to giving the information and resources they need to be informed, empowered, and appreciated. Proven to increase retention and comprehension, the Longboat Platform supports and engages sites and participants. To learn how, reach out for a demo today.