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Why pre-recruitment projects should be your priority in 2021

Sure, clinical trials are unable to enrol participants using normal methods — but you can consider using pre-recruitment projects.

Currently, many people are at home and spending huge amounts of time on the internet. Participants are more primed to receive advertisements than ever, and it would be a shame to waste such an opportunity to connect with patients. By simply reframing your recruitment strategy to pre-recruitment, you can connect with people and create your own registry of contactable patients — ready to enrol onto your study as soon as possible.

But why not just wait until the pandemic subsides?

If you can’t enrol patients until the pandemic allows, then you might be thinking “what’s the point in carrying out pre-recruitment projects?”.

Pre-recruitment doesn’t just mean you’re creating a library of willing participants, it means you’re creating a registry of patients who are both eligible and engaged. Carrying out a pre-recruitment project allows you to filter through participants to find those who match the eligibility criteria for your study, essentially creating a contact list of completely eligible patients that are ready to go when your study is back up and running. Not to mention, this method of recruitment familiarises people with the concept of clinical trials. Engaging with patients who have already shown interest in participating in research and have a good understanding of clinical trials are more likely to take part when the opportunity arises.

So, even though you might not be able to formally recruit patients until the pandemic has eased, a pre-recruitment project allows you to hit the ground running when the time comes to resume enrolment again.

How to go about creating pre-recruitment projects

Most importantly, your strategy should be modified to focus on creating a registry of eligible patients and their contact details, instead of focusing on enrolling patients onto your trial. When you’re establishing a pre-recruitment project, it’s important to remember to:

  1. Revise recruitment materials and content to anticipate pre-recruitment of patients, rather than typical recruitment of patients – you may wish to get help from a patient recruitment company to help you with the transition from recruitment materials to pre-recruitment materials.
  2. Keep pre-registrants engaged with regular updates and information about when the clinical trial may start/resume – keeping people in the dark about your clinical trial is likely to lead them to lose interest. By sending regular updates to your pre-registrants, you make sure they stay engaged and feel valued. A patient engagement agency can help you organise and manage these regular calls and updates too.
  3. Use the information you learn to help re-strategise your current recruitment plan – pre-recruitment projects allow you to gather useful information before your trial begins enrolment. For example, you may notice that the majority of registrants are coming from a specific location or region, which can aid site selection.
  4. Keep sites up to date and aware of the efforts that are being made to support recruitment – sites can continually screen pre-registrants, helping them to plan resources and allowing them to provide input where needed.

Ultimately, clinical research outside of COVID-19 has taken a hit as a result of the pandemic. As a collective, we need to do everything we can to get research back up to pre-COVID-19 levels, across all therapy areas. Prioritising pre-recruitment projects can help pave the way for your clinical trial to quickly return back to normality once the pandemic has subsided.

What are you doing to ensure progress is made during COVID-19?

This blog was originally published here.

8th February 2021

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