Recruitment in the digital age

Study reveals that ‘traditional digital advertising rules don’t apply’ in clinical trial recruitment

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RALEIGH, N.C.—Syneos Health, a fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions organization, in mid-October released a study that it says provides real-world patient insights into the effectiveness of digital advertising to speed clinical trial recruitment. That research highlighted by the study—presented at Digital Pharma East in Philadelphia—finds that traditional digital advertising rules don’t necessarily apply well to recruitment efforts for clinical trials.
The study was conducted online with 432 patients in the United States who had epilepsy and migraine—two conditions with active late-phase pipelines, Syneos notes—and was aimed at helping digital marketers better understand patient perceptions surrounding online clinical trial advertising. Syneos says it is “committed to identifying behavioral insights to deliver meaningful communications to shorten the distance from lab to life,” and the research evaluated patient trust levels with specific online channels and platforms, as well as what factors contributed to content success.
“As we move toward a future where more personalized therapies make enrolling the right patients more difficult, social media advertising plays an increasingly important role in effective clinical trial recruitment,” said Michael Pearlman, a lead author of the report. “Our study reveals that the rules for social advertising in clinical trial recruitment aren’t the same as traditional advertising. Understanding these key differences can be critical to the success of social marketing campaigns that have the ability to accelerate patient recruitment efforts.”
Findings of the “Content That Clicks: Effective Social Marketing for Clinical Trial Recruitment” report include:
  • Recall of clinical trial ads is high. Sixty-six percent of epilepsy patient respondents and 79 percent of migraine respondents recall seeing clinical trial advertising. Among places where people recall seeing clinical trial advertising, Facebook ranks as the third most-recalled medium, with only the doctor’s office and television ranking higher.
  • High trial intenders trust social media. Survey respondents who indicated a high intent to enroll in a clinical trial showed higher levels of trust in every digital information source included in the study. Most social media channels clustered closely together in terms of trust, with YouTube emerging as the most trusted channel. Trust in YouTube among those with high intent was 19 percentage points higher than those with low intent.
  • Trust in healthcare professionals translates to creative execution. When shown creative imagery that included a doctor in a white lab coat versus creative imagery that included a woman in discomfort, the creative execution featuring the physician outperformed the nonclinical imagery by nearly 10 percent.
  • Standard social rules may not apply. While shorter content is typically viewed as gold-standard on social media, with clinical trial social ads, longer content performed better. Eighty-one percent of respondents who indicated their condition has a high negative impact on their quality of life preferred an ad with longer and more detailed copy.
The full report is available at Syneos Health touts itself as “the only fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions organization,” and the company, which includes a contract research organization and a contract commercial organization, is said to be “purpose-built to accelerate customer performance to address modern market realities.” Syneos was created through the merger of two industry leading companies: INC Research and inVentiv Health.
In other trial recruitment news, with retention also a major consideration and a neurological condition as the focus, Advanced Clinical announced Oct. 18 a new partnership with Cognitive Clinical Trials (CCT), a company that provides streamlined solutions to help sponsors, sites and patients overcome long-standing recruitment road blocks in Alzheimer’s clinical trials.
This new partnership is expected to enable Advanced Clinical to expedite Alzheimer’s disease research by improving patients’ access to trials and enhancing Alzheimer’s patient recruitment and retention for sponsors.
CCT offers what Advanced Clinical calls “an innovative approach” to conducting clinical research for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, saying that CCT has created a new research model that overcomes the top obstacles facing this research category. Specifically, this model brings clinical trials directly to patients who may otherwise be unable to participate due to concerns over travel, scheduling or health conditions by embedding a clinical research infrastructure within established senior living communities. The infrastructure includes a clinic staffed by physicians, clinical research coordinators and other research professionals.
“As CCT’s only CRO partner, we are excited to offer our customers direct access to this patient population through our collaboration,” said Julie Ross, president of Advanced Clinical, a clinical development organization providing contract research, functional service provider services and strategic resourcing and consulting services. “Our partnership further improves the critical communication pathway between Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers, sites and researchers, and drives improved quality and efficiencies in the conduct of clinical trials.”

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