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5 reasons clinical trial drop-out rates are on the rise

According to a recent report by the CSDD, patient recruitment rates have been steadily increasing, which is great news! The study found that 77% of clinical trials are now either meeting or exceeding their enrolment targets, in comparison to just 47% in 2012.

However, whilst patient recruitment has been rising, the same can’t be said for patient retention. Up to 40% of patients drop out of studies before their completion date. This suggests that while there’s a big drive to meet enrolment targets, the same efforts aren’t being translated over to the remainder of the patient experience.

It’s important to increase patient retention in clinical trials to ensure robust findings, and that starts by understanding why a patient would drop out of a study in the first place.

  1. Inconvenience
    Clinical trials may require a lot of time and effort from patients, especially through repeated hospital visits. A build-up of time and effort over a long period of time increases patient burden, and increases their likelihood of dropping out.
  2. Lack of appreciationPatients that leave clinical studies may feel that they weren’t valued, or that they aren’t making a meaningful contribution to the study.
  3. Unclear expectations/condition stagnancy
    Patients may enrol onto a study believing there could be some medical benefits to them. It’s important to remember that while some patients may experience benefit, others may not. For example, if they’re part of a control group it is unlikely that a patient will show any improvement. Little to no noticeable progress is discouraging for patients, and it can be a factor that leads to drop out. Further to this, patients may experience side effects, which could cause them to drop out too.
  4. They just plain forget!
    There are many, many aspects to a successful clinical trial. However, clinical trials are just one of many commitments in a patients’ life. The added complications of schedule conflicts and personal/family matters can interfere with hospital visits. It’s understandable that occasional appointments may be missed, however, ongoing missed appointments can impact study results.
  5. Fear and anxiety
    Uncertainty surrounding a clinical trial can be a patient’s worst nightmare. Protocols that aren’t explained properly or the involvement of invasive procedures like vaccinations may cause fear in potential participants and can be a deciding factor when leaving a study.

Most of the above can be improved through engaging with patients throughout the trial, and by making the entire study experience more patient centric. In other words, you need to think of the patient at every stage of the process. What does their journey look like? How will they respond to certain parts of the study? The easiest way to gain these answers is through mapping their journey and gathering patient insights through methods like surveys.

Here at COUCH health, we have the insights, expertise and solutions to boost patient retention in your clinical trials. To hear about how COUCH health rescued a phase III clinical trial, read our case study here. Or, to learn how COUCH health can reduce the dropout rate in your study, get in touch below.

This blog was originally published here.

19th February 2021

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