Attracting patients to a research study: 12 tested techniques

October 1, 2007

There are 12 sources for patient recruitment that will help drive patients to your study and that are available to almost all private practices.

Key Points

In the first article of this three-part series, we described the steps that community-based urologists can take to begin conducting clinical research in their practices ("Clinical trials: How to secure your first grant," Urology Times, Sept. 1, 2007, pg. 37). In this second article, we will explore the topic of recruiting patients to fill the study. For this article, we have interviewed urologist Bela Denes, MD, senior director of research and development at Spectrum Pharmaceuticals in Irvine, CA, who has conducted more than 30 clinical studies.

Dr. Denes offers these 12 sources for patient recruitment that will help drive patients to your study and that are available to almost all private practices:

Signage in the practice. It is helpful to place signs and posters throughout your practice about study recruitment. These signs can be strategically placed in plastic holders in your reception area and the exam rooms. The signs should mention the purpose of the study and whom the patients should contact for more information.

Referrals from existing study patients. Patients who are enrolled in a study also can be a source of new participants. You will be amazed at how many patients discuss these clinical trials with friends who also have the same condition and can generate additional patients for your studies.

Chart prompter. A sheet on your patients' charts or a reminder in the EMR may help you remember the ongoing studies and the inclusion criteria for the studies currently being conducted in the practice. When the provider enters the exam room, he has seen a list of the studies currently being offered and will be more likely to discuss eligibility with the patient. Those who are interested in participating in the study will then be immediately introduced to the study coordinator, who determines if the patient does, indeed, qualify for the study, allowing you to capture the patient during the office visit, rather than having him or return at a later date.