Recruitment & Retention
Clinical Trial Recruitment
In order for a better treatment (be it a procedure, medical device, or drug) to become available, volunteers from the general public must participate in a clinical trial. Recruiting participants is a critical component of the medical development process and without the necessary amount of volunteers (sometimes hundreds or thousands), new procedures cannot be approved.
In a 2007 CenterWatch National Survey of Study Volunteers people participated for the following reasons: "to help myself and others/ to advance science" (81%); "to find a better treatment" (75%) and "to receive higher quality medical care" (51%).
Help Advance Medicine by Signing Up for a Study
Most people do not know that they can help advance medicine by simply signing up for a study. There are several resources to match volunteers with researchers: researchmatch.org is a prefect resource because it allows anyone to enter their information and then match them with possible study opportunities. Another benefit people might not know about is the concept of “healthy volunteers.” These are individuals that currently show no signs of a disease or illness and provide researchers with critical comparative information in the study. Read more information.
And perhaps the best way to find an available study right for you is to ask your primary care physician.
Along with recruitment, retention is the next most important part in the research process. Retention is maintaining the necessary level of volunteers throughout the entire study to ensure a statistically significant set of data is obtained. This is important because if a researcher cannot prove the new treatment is more effective that standard care, it will not be approved for the general public. The best way to accomplish a high retention rate is clear communication between the researcher and the participants before the study begins.
All studies make use of an informed consent document that details the procedures, processes, and safety information of the trial. It is meant to deliver comprehensive and understandable information so an informed decision can be made voluntarily. While usually a great resource for volunteers to understand the study more thoroughly, it can sometimes become overly technical. It is important for the participant to ask any and all questions if there is any confusion about the document.
It is important to note that time commitment also varies from study to study - everything from a one time visit to participating over the course of years. Clearly communicating the required time before the study begins will maximize a good fit between volunteers and trials, leading to higher retention rates.