I’ll cut right to the chase here: posters don’t enroll clinical trials, people do – most specifically, study coordinators, investigators, nurses, and all the staff at your study sites.
But, providing these very busy healthcare professionals with top-notch patient recruitment materials has a major impact on their ability to effectively and efficiently identify, approach, consent, and retain your study participants. What’s more, good recruitment tools also keep your study foremost in the minds of the site staff, so that when an eligible patient presents, yours is the study that the site staffers consider.
Conversely, of course, poorly executed recruitment tools can actually be detrimental to enrollment. If your materials don’t help the staff, or the staff doesn’t like your materials, chances are you’ll turn off your site staff and potential participants not only to using the stuff, but also – to one degree or another – to your study.
Those are the high stakes you’re playing with; now, here are some ways to ensure you make materials that inspire your sites and prospective participants.
To a patient, your study may not be about what you think it’s about
As we all know, it’s imperative that patient recruitment materials provide fair and balanced information. However, fair and balanced also means making sure not only that you are properly presenting the potential benefits and risks of a given protocol, but also – in a clear and easy to follow manner – you’re explaining why a potential participant might want to know about the study opportunity. Remember, it’s not uncommon for a clinical trial to have a scientific purpose that has little to do with why a patient may want to participate in the study.
Imagination is more important than knowledge
Obviously, it’s a delicate balance – you can’t present the study in such a manner that it misrepresents the intent of the study. This is where a good creative concept comes in. Establishing some sort of metaphoric, symbolic, or expressive means of conveying the primary gist of why a patient should be interested in the study is imperative for 1.) helping patients to quickly comprehend all the information they need to know about the study, 2.) enabling site staff to focus their presentation on the salient messages they need to convey in order to help the patient make a fully informed decision about participation, and 3.) making your study not only memorable, but also the primary study opportunity the staff thinks about when they encounter a potentially eligible patient.
Demographics, psychographics, and graphic graphics…oh my!
Of course, to make sure your materials communicate the right information, you need to know who the target audiences are. Don’t overlook when this includes caregivers as well as the patient. And, make sure you’re thinking not just about any patient who meets the eligibility criteria, but more particularly, the patient who is most likely to participate. This means, you have to know the motivations an eligible patient will have to participate and who, among all eligible patients, will be most attracted to those motivations. We’re talking demographics and psychographics now, not blood pressures or Hba1c levels! Also, use photos, illustrations, or charts to illustrate anything complex that you’re trying to explain. Reading is fundamental, but good visuals help not only patients, but also site staff, as they act as tools for discussing specific aspects of a study.
Are you making things easier for everyone?
Lastly, a very basic rule of thumb is that your site materials should make it easier for a potential participant to understand your informed consent form (ICF)…and easier for your site staff to walk the patient through the ICF when the time comes. So, if there are complexities about the protocol in the ICF, put ‘em in lay terms in the recruitment materials.
These are just the basic guidelines you should stick to when creating stand-out patient recruitment materials. There are lots more, or course, but these will get you oriented, if you’re diving into the development of materials for your sites for the first time. Next post, maybe we’ll dive a little deeper.
Rob Laurens is a senior strategist for BBK’s client services division, bringing 18 years of patient recruitment experience to guide account teams and deliver recruitment results for clients. With an extensive background in creative direction and copywriting, Rob keeps recruitment programs on strategy and on message, tracking performance through BBK’s data systems. As BBK’s resident patient advocate, Rob’s ability to understand patient and other trial audience perspectives contributes to solving thorny recruitment dilemmas. Clients also benefit from the innovations born of his ongoing examination of the motivations for participating in clinical trials. Rob is a member of the BBK Management Board.