Struggles with Patients Participating in Clinical Trials and How Technology Can Help

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Clinical trials can provide considerable benefits to patients—offering access to treatments only available as part of a trial, or to new therapies that may work better than the standard of care. But despite the potential benefits, even eligible patients may be hesitant to participate. Let’s explore five key reasons patients may opt not to participate in clinical trials and learn how technology can help overcome patients’ concerns.

Five Top Reasons For Hesitation

1. Fear of unexpected side effects

New treatments can bring novel therapeutic benefits, as well as other positives such as frequent check-ups and a greater role in managing their healthcare, but patients may fear unknown adverse effects. Detailed information about the trial expectations and protocol can help alleviate concerns, as can including stories from other patients about their trial experiences.

2. Fear that participation will be too costly or will take up too much time

Participating in a traditional site-based clinical trial–in contrast to a remote, decentralized clinical trial (DCT)–can mean added time and expense. Patients often need to do extra paperwork, take extra tests, spend time traveling to and from studies, and incur transportation expenses such as bus fare or parking fees. Lower-income patients are less likely to participate in clinical trials, making trials less accessible to certain socioeconomic groups.

3. Lack of support from family or caregivers

Even among persons who are otherwise willing to participate in clinical research, patients often report a lack of family or caregiver support as a barrier to clinical trial participation. Or, patients may hesitate because they believe the transportation needs, extra costs, or potential side effects will overburden their family or caregivers.

4. Lack of clinical trial information from HCPs (Health Care Providers)

Worldwide, almost 71% of people who have never participated in a clinical trial indicate they would be willing to do so, but 90% say their doctor has never suggested it. This may be due to a lack of information on the part of HCPs themselves. HCPs may worry that they don’t know enough about a particular trial to assist a patient through the process and looking through the trial database takes time HCPs may not have.

According to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, health care providers only refer a small number of patients each year largely because of a lack of access to clinical trial information and insufficient time to evaluate and confidently discuss clinical trial options with their patients.

Empowering HCPs with complete and easy-to-access trial information and improving awareness of DCT options would equip physicians to more readily discuss trials with their patients.

5. Confusion about the clinical trial process

Many patients may be confused by informed consent documents that are highly-technical or full of  industry and legal jargon. Digital access and digital literacy issues also can create patient misunderstanding, particularly in DCTs. This challenge crosses all patient populations, but the groups most affected are patients in underserved areas.

Fear due to a lack of comfort with the clinical trial process may be tied to critical barriers to participation for underrepresented populations. Combined with the above concerns, confusion over trial process creates another barrier between trial sponsors and potential study participants.

How Technology Can Help

With electronic solutions like Teleconsent, digital screening, and eCOA/ePRO, technology can help mitigate fears and concerns stemming from a lack of information about the clinical trial process.

  • eConsent offers video and multimedia presentations to help patients understand trial processes and goals.
  • Digital Screening is an online process that helps determine if a participant fits within a clinical trial’s parameters.
  • eCOA and ePRO deliver a unified study method that provides better assessments the first time, meaning patients aren’t required to repeat tests.

Technology can also help lessen fears about time and cost burdens by making trials more flexible, agile, and accessible with solutions like televisits and remote patient monitoring.

  • Televisits provide the comfort of site-based trial experiences from the homes of patients and staff.
  • Remote patient monitoring gives patients a simple and secure way to collect and transfer data without time spent at a physical site.

In addition to technological solutions, Medable invests in people solutions as well. Medable’s Patient Advisory Council works to reduce fears in clinical trial participation by bridging the gaps between sponsors and patients and increasing opportunities for diverse recruitment.  

Contact Medable for a demo today.