Less than 20% of U.S. patients said a healthcare professional (HCP) has talked to them about clinical trial studies, but 81% say it's likely they would participate in a clinical trial if recommended by an HCP. 77% of patients who did participate in a trial learned about it from their health care provider. Simply put, the HCP is the key to boosting clinical trial recruitment.
Why Aren’t HCPs Informing Patients?
Many HCPs are unaware of clinical trials that might benefit their patient. A National Cancer Institute survey found that 37% of primary care HCPs admitted they were unaware that clinical trial participation might be an option for their patients. This data highlights an important missed opportunity to improve clinical trial participation. A majority of HCPs (62%) are also unsure or indifferent about the extent to which participation in a clinical trial will benefit patients, according to a survey by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Will NPs Recommend Clinical Trials?
“NPs are willing to recommend clinical trials,” one study concluded about Nurse Practitioners' attitudes about cancer clinical trials and willingness to recommend participation. However, the study also noted the need for more NP education about the benefits and burdens of clinical trials. An open-ended question on the survey asked what organizations could do to encourage NPs to bring up the topic of clinical trials when they discuss treatment options with their cancer patients. A majority of NPs reported that they needed more information regarding available studies and the effectiveness of current treatments versus new options. NPs who were comfortable broaching the topic with patients were almost 5 times more likely to think clinical trials were useful. This means that if more NPs are well informed and convinced about clinical trial benefits, it’s likely that more NPs will tell their patients about the option to enroll in studies.
1. Increase HCP Awareness of Your Trial’s Existence
HCP knowledge and endorsement of clinical trials are essential to enrolling patients. If HCPs don’t know about your trial and its benefits, they certainly aren’t going to recommend it to their patients, and studies show that patients are reluctant to sign up without an HCP recommendation. A Research!America poll found that 80% believe a HCP’s recommendation is an important factor in deciding to participate. The research is conslusive that increasing awareness and education of HCPs about your clinical trial and its potential patient benefits is one of the major keys to accelerating patient recruitment.
2. Educate HCPs About Clinical Trial Benefits
To be successful, pharma companies must also highlight patient benefits when presenting clinical trials to HCPs. These benefits might include access to the newest treatments that are not yet available to the masses, the care and attention patients receive (often at no cost) from an entire team of experts during the study, and the ability to help others in the future by advancing knowledge about a given disease. HCPs need to know that 86% of patients believe HCPs should discuss clinical trials with them as part of standard care, and that 88-90% of patients who participate in clinical trials would be willing to participate again. Another survey also showed that when people simply read a brief statement to understand more about clinical trials, those with a positive impression of clinical trials jumped from 40% to 60%. HCPs are no exception. They need to hear the benefits before recommending your trial. The bottom line is that patients will join studies recommended by their HCPs. Are you doing enough to educate HCPs about your clinical trials?
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