Patient recruitment comprises one of the most significant initial challenges in any oncology study but engaging and retaining these patients throughout the trial can ultimately be the challenge requiring the most upfront planning and coordination. However, during the initial planning stages of clinical trial implementation, the focus is usually placed predominately on recruitment and not on patient engagement efforts. This lapse undermines retention rates and potentially negatively impacts the patient experience, thereby reducing the possibility of each patient’s participation in future clinical trials.
Everyone is familiar with the phrase, “time is money.” During the planning stages for a new clinical trial, it’s easy to look at timelines for enrollment and make the key focus enrolling the study as quickly as possible to keep costs in check. However, if a study must replace patients, it adds expense for the sponsor and timeline delays. Many modern clinical trials, particularly in oncology, also include a long-term follow-up element. Oncology trial endpoints are sometimes required to track patients for years to record side effects or the impact of future treatments, in addition to overall long-term survival rates. A patient who isn’t adequately engaged will not complete follow-up long term — if they even stay throughout the treatment portion of the study. Consequently, the sponsor’s submission goals could suffer because they don’t have adequate data, necessitating the enrollment of more patients or an additional trial.
Ashley Herrick, Ph.D., Executive Director, Oncology Program Strategy & Nicole Carswell, Executive Director, Patient Engagement & Recruitment