The Top 5 Mistakes Clinical Research Recruiters Make

When planning and preparing for a clinical trial, it can be tempting to get caught up in the goals and processes of your research and neglect one of the key areas impacting your study’s success: patient recruitment. As a clinical research recruiter, it’s crucial to understand how you can improve your recruitment so you can hit your enrollment goals on time and within budget.

A clinical research recruiter is frustrated and holding her head.

According to the United States Institute of Medicine, 75% of researchers fail to enroll the target number of subjects for their study. There are a number of factors at play in this statistic, from failing to set an adequate recruitment budget to taking the wrong steps to acquire participants.

Not reaching your participant enrollment goal can have serious negative effects on your clinical trial. Here are the top mistakes clinical research recruiters are likely to make.

Table of Contents

1. Not budgeting sufficiently

There are substantial costs associated with patient recruitment, and it can be easy to overlook them in the early stages of planning and budgeting for your study.  

For example, many clinical research recruiters fail to include the cost of patient recruitment in their initial budget estimates. In some cases, they may neglect to secure recruitment funding at all. When the enrollment period begins, those researchers are left scrambling to make last-minute changes to their recruitment timeline and budget.

Budgeting for study recruitment should occur early in the planning process. In fact, recruitment costs should be factored in from the beginning and before applying for grants.

2. Lack of adequate planning for recruitment

Even if a study’s participant recruitment phase has been properly financed, enrollment can still fail if it hasn’t been carefully and strategically planned out. There are countless methods for attracting candidates, from traditional advertising – like newspaper ads or recruitment flyers – to using existing patient databases.

Clinical research recruiters should be utilizing a mix of these strategies. The best bet for engaging potential participants is to diversify sources of advertising and ensure your recruitment methods are professional but also easy to understand.

However, that doesn’t mean that every approach should be treated equally. If one method has historically been more effective at attracting participants to your clinical trials than others, it makes sense to funnel more of your budget into that source.

Also, keep in mind that new times call for new techniques. Fewer people see newspaper advertisements these days and for many, listening to the radio has become obsolete thanks to music streaming services. If you haven’t tried “new” recruitment tactics like online advertising or emailing your participant database, you may find more success there than employing the old “tried-and-true” recruitment methods.

The key is to mix and match and see what works best.

What is a clinical recruiter?

A clinical recruiter helps researchers who are running active health studies or clinical trials find appropriate participants that meet their specific enrollment criteria. Clinical recruiters use a number of different recruitment methods so researchers can get closer to their participant enrollment goals.

3. Research recruiters relying solely on research site estimates

If you plan your enrollment numbers according to research site estimates, then you may be inadvertently setting yourself up for disappointment. Statistically, research sites are likely to come up short.

The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development states that 11% of research sites in a given trial fail to enroll a single patient and 37% under-enroll. While your go-to site may have assured you that you’ll have plenty of promising participants, it’s wise to assume that they will under-deliver.

What is a CRA position?

Clinical research associates (CRAs) help clinical researchers throughout the duration of their studies. CRAs may assist with trial enrollment, data compilation and reporting, participant interactions, and other miscellaneous tasks.

4. Not following up with potential participants effectively

When someone indicates that they are interested in being included in a research study, it’s crucial to follow up with that candidate immediately. Statistically, people need multiple points of contact before making a decision to do something. This makes following up an important part of the recruitment data-forecasting process. Many researchers make the mistake of taking their time responding to interested participants which could prove to be a fatal flaw in their recruitment process.

Clinical trial participants have many options when it comes to the studies they take part in and, in some cases, they can afford to be picky. If a participant has reached out to indicate their willingness to enroll, research recruiters should aim to respond that same day, if possible. If a day or two goes by without a response, the patient is likely to lose interest and move on.

5. Clinical research recruiters not asking for recruitment help

Recruiting participants for clinical trials is hard – every clinical research recruiter can attest to that. From fielding inquiry phone calls to following up with potential participants, it’s a hard job.

To combat typical recruitment challenges from the outset, it may be worthwhile to consider calling a clinical research recruiter that specializes in clinical trial recruitment and clinical research staffing.

The best clinical research recruitment companies have extensive experience finding participants for a wide array of studies. Their expert knowledge will help you determine which enrollment strategies will work best for your study using data, not intuition-based guesses. They’ll help you build a realistic recruitment plan including a comprehensive budget overview so you can ultimately meet your enrollment goals with fewer hassles and headaches.

 Need help keeping your research recruitment error-free? Contact us today to find out how Trialfacts can help you build the participant list you’re looking for.

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