As it relates to clinical trial patient recruitment, the Internet is becoming a platform for reaching potential candidates. This makes sense as people regularly turn to the web for information (and solutions) on ailments as well as ways to stay healthy. I know that when I use a search engine like Google, I’m always interested to see what other topics pop up in my search results. Reaching potential study subjects through social media and other online platforms will expand the scope of recruitment efforts.
My advice to sponsors interested in recruiting on the Internet: keep it simple. Although people may be comfortable browsing the web they start to get nervous about “breaking” a webpage. Don’t require the user to download, or allow the use of, other programs to browse recruitment material or complete the recruitment process. This practice could scare away less computer-savvy people. In addition, questions need to be short, easy to read and answered quickly. When left to their own devices, patients start to over think their medical history.
Most IRBs now have guidelines about web-based recruitment and they are in line with what is expected from print ads. One thing I haven’t seen clearly written is web-based recruitment materials that are required to be 508 compliant. It will be interesting to see how that plays out moving forward.
Patient recruitment should not rely solely on the Internet as web access in some parts of the world is sparse. Additionally, some patient populations are better suited for more traditional recruitment efforts such as broadcast and print advertising.
At the end of the day, using an integrated approach to subject recruitment is essential in reaching your project enrollment goals. That can mean a variety of strategies including online campaigns, direct response mailings, public relations and advertising.